Alternative Dispute Resolution is a term used for processes that are different than litigation. Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law are all some examples of Alternative Dispute Resolution. In these processes, the parties attempt to settle the divorce issues without the necessity of bringing the issue(s) or the matter before the Court. If this process is successful, an agreement, typically memorialized in a Marital Termination Agree (MTA) needs to be drafted and submitted to the Court along with the proposed Divorce Decree (for the Judicial Officer to sign). It is extremely important to have access to all information (debt, property, business values, income, motor vehicles, etc.) before engaging in any form of any form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. If a spouse does not know the extent of the marital estate, he or she is at a great disadvantage representing his or her own interests effectively. Engaging in Alternative Resolution mechanisms does not mean that you have to be unrepresented by legal counsel; in fact, many lawyers will accompany their clients to mediation. In collaborative law, there is a requirement that both the clients have attorneys representing them throughout the process. Regardless of how confident you may be regarding reaching a resolution, it is always important to make any agreement(s) contingent on having the agreement reviewed by an attorney of your choice.
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