Which family lawyers offer alternative dispute resolution services?

Going through a divorce or resolving a family legal dispute be extremely stressful and emotional. There are often many complex child custody, spousal support, and division of assets. Traditional litigation is adversarial, lengthy, and expensive. That’s why family law attorneys are offering alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to help couples amicable, cost-effective manner.  So what exactly are ADR services and why should you consider them during your family law matter? Here’s an overview of these alternatives to litigation and tips on finding family lawyers who provide them.


Mediation is a voluntary, private process where couples work with a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator facilitates discussions and helps identify issues, clarify misunderstandings, and find solutions. Mediation aims to arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement. It is less formal than litigation and the have more control over the outcome. Mediation is especially helpful in establishing a parenting plan and coping with divorce in a way that minimizes negative impacts on children. Many family attorneys are trained mediators. Choosing a lawyer-mediator is an extra layer of legal expertise during the negotiations.

Collaborative divorce

In the collaborative divorce process, each spouse has an attorney and they sign an agreement to negotiate in good faith without going to court. Communications between the attorneys and clients are open and constructive. Experts such as child psychologists may be brought in to assist when needed. The ultimate goal is an equitable settlement and healthy co-parenting relationship. Attorneys who offer the collaborative process tend to be skilled negotiators who put the well-being of the family first. If no agreement the attorneys withdraw from the case and the couple would need to hire new litigation counsel.


Arbitration is less common for divorce and respected family lawyers in scarborough matters but is sometimes used to settle disputes around the division of assets or details of a parenting plan. Rather than presenting arguments in court, each party works with their attorney to present their case to an independent arbitrator. After reviewing written documents and hearing each side, the arbitrator issues a binding decision. Arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than litigation. Lawyers may suggest arbitration for certain limited issues to move the case forward. However, it does involve giving up control over the outcome.

Choosing the right lawyer

So how do you find a qualified family lawyer who incorporates ADR into their practice? Here are some tips:

  1. Ask about ADR experience and training. Mediators and arbitrators require specialized skills and knowledge.
  2. Understand the attorney’s approach and overall philosophy. Are they litigation-focused or solutions-focused?
  3. Ask what ADR services they provide. Mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce?
  4. Look for membership in Collaborative Practice or Mediation associations. It demonstrates commitment.
  5. Consider boutique family law firms. They often emphasize peaceful dispute resolution.
  6. Search attorney rating sites like Avvo for client reviews mentioning mediation.
  7. Schedule initial consultations and compare interpersonal approaches. The rapport is important.

The divorce process does not have to be a combative battle. Family lawyers who offer alternative dispute resolution services you resolve issues, reduce acrimony, and come to agreements that work for your family situation. With the right attorney supporting the ADR process, you save time, money, and emotional wear and tear.

Ronald Merritt

Ronald Merritt