When a legal dispute is resolved with a neutral third party and without litigation, it’s considered an alternative dispute resolution (ADR). There are several ways to successfully perform an ADR, including:
Today we’re analyzing two specific forms of mediation-related ADR: Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences and Late Case Evaluations. These types of ADR are common when resolving family law issues.
Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences
This option falls under the umbrella of mediation as the disputing parties can choose to resolve their case in front of a retired circuit court judge. Judges are trained in mediation practices, and they will usually apply techniques designed to foster communication as each party works toward a resolution.
There are several benefits to having a senior judge involved in a settlement dispute:
- They offer insight into the strength and weaknesses of each party’s side.
- They can provide expert risk evaluations should the dispute lead to litigation.
- They remain a neutral party.
- They provide a more time-friendly and cost-effective option compared to long and expensive trials.
Late-case evaluations are most common in case of a divorce or similar family matter. These evaluations provide a “reality check” of sorts to either one or both parties involved in the dispute. When a divorcing couple cannot reach a point of mediation, a late-case evaluation can be ordered to help the couple foster an agreement and side-step a costly, emotionally heavy trial.
A late-case evaluation is similar to a judicially hosted settlement conference in that it involves a retired judge or sometimes an experienced attorney who can provide helpful feedback about each party’s side. The goal of the evaluation is to show the parties what outcomes they can expect from trial if they maintain an unwillingness to work toward a settlement. In many cases, the parties begin adopting more flexible attitudes and better understandings as they move toward settlement.