Alternative Dispute Resolution
Arbitration, Mediation and Collaborative Law in the Philadelphia Area
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) contains a broad spectrum of options for resolving conflicts outside the judicial system. Two of the more common methods of ADR include mediation and arbitration. However, other options exist, including collaborative law and cooperative law.
I’m Lee A. Schwartz, an attorney offering more than 30 years of experience to clients throughout the five-county Philadelphia area. I am a mediator, parent coordinator and a trained arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. Contact my office to discuss your alternative dispute resolution options for conflict resolution.
Finding Solutions to Family Problems
In my family law practice, I facilitate four main areas of alternative dispute resolution. These include:
Binding arbitration allows couples to reach decisions about individual topics in a divorce, such as support and custody and division of property. By doing so, couples avoid months of waiting for court hearings and appeals, saving time, money and emotional expense. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator acts as judge, rather than as a mediator, as in mediation. Having waived their right for judicial review of the arbitrated matter, the parties work with the arbitrator who hears the case like a judge and renders a decision. The arbitrator has the power to make decisions and enter the final order.
I am a trained arbitrator. In that role, when requested by the attorneys in a case, I will meet with the parties to discuss any family law matter, hear each party’s side and decide issues in cases.
Mediation is a route many couples choose to settle family law disputes in a divorce, including child support, custody arrangements and division of property. Serving as mediator, I facilitate the discussion and resolution of all issues in the divorce. Couples find divorce mediation to be empowering, as they can determine the future of their children and finances rather than having a decision handed down from a judge. Further, it is often less contentious than a standard, litigated divorce.
In a collaborative divorce, two parties are ready to move forward with obtaining a divorce without the intention of punishing the other party. Collaborative law provides a less confrontational environment for couples to develop creative solutions to matters such as child support, custody and property division without the threat and expense of court. The attorneys for both parties are contractually bound to withdraw from representation if the case deadlocks and moves to litigation. This alternative dispute method is often fairer and quicker than litigation.
I am a trained Parent Coordinator. As a Parent Coordinator, I am appointed by the court, either at the request of both parties, their lawyers or sometimes at the suggestion of the judge in your case.
A Parent Coordinator is used only in the most contentious custody cases, where the parents are simply unable to agree on custody issues. They find themselves repetitively in court either on contempt and/or enforcement petitions as well as on petitions to modify their custody order. The job of the Parent Coordinator is to meet with the parents and attempt to forge an agreed approach to an issue. If the parents cannot agree, the Parent Coordinator decides the matter and issues an order. The parties are obliged to follow the order. A Parent Coordinator can only act in that capacity pursuant to a court order signed by the judge.
Similar to collaborative law, cooperative law allows the parties to attempt to work out the issues surrounding divorce. Unlike collaborative law, the parties are not contractually bound to work out an agreement. Rather, they agree to enter an informal discovery process and exchange information without waiving their rights to go to court.
Contact Lee A. Schwartz, Attorney at Law — Serving King of Prussia, West Chester and Area Communities
For more information about alternative dispute resolution and how ADR can best meet your needs, contact me, a Collaborative Law Attorney, today for immediate help.