Through alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), divorcing parties have plenty of options to reach a settlement agreement.
We recently expounded on the structures and benefits of ADRs like mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law. As we finalize our series on alternative dispute resolutions, we are looking at the option of conciliation.
What Is Conciliation?
Conciliation is the process where divorcing parties meet with a conciliator out of court to reach an official settlement. The conciliator is a neutral, unbiased third party who guides the divorcing couple toward a mutually agreeable decision. Conciliation is similar to other alternative dispute resolution options, especially mediation, but there are some critical differences between the two:
Conciliation vs. Mediation
- In both conciliation and mediation, the two divorcing parties will take part in a voluntary, non-binding procedure.
- Conciliation and mediation both offer flexibility and total confidentiality throughout either process.
- A neutral third party guides the processes of conciliation and mediation that the two sides can either choose themselves or have appointed to them.
- In conciliation, both parties present the same case they would give in a courtroom. In mediation, the process is more of a back-and-forth discussion.
- In conciliation, it’s more common for each party’s lawyer to be present. They will present arguments to the conciliator and file any necessary memos. In mediation, lawyers can be present, but parties are more likely to attend without representation.
- In conciliation, the conciliator provides feedback to the parties, letting each side know where their cases are strong or weak. They can inform the couple of what a judge might decide based on the presentations each side provides. In mediation, the mediator does not offer feedback or court-based advice, only guidance toward settlement.
- In most cases, couples who opt for conciliation begin the process after filing for divorce with the court. Medication can start either before or after someone files.