Alternative Dispute Resolution
The best way to resolve any dispute is through Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR. While ADR encompasses any mechanism to resolve a dispute outside the formal court system, in Mississippi family law, the most widely used form of ADR is mediation. At R+A, we believe in mediation, and Craig is a mediator on the list approved by the Mississippi Bar.
At the moment, in the most densely populated counties, upon the completion of the sometimes lengthy information gathering process called discovery, it can take six months to a year just for a trial date. A trial is the most expensive service you can “buy” from a lawyer, and should be avoided if at all possible. Most chancellors will tell you that lawyers working in a collaborative manner can reach much better resolutions than they can, so if mediation is an option, we encourage you to give it a try.
Essentially, mediation is a daylong settlement conference in which a neutral third party helps people identify their differences and common ground and promotes settlement through mutual compromises. The result of quality mediation is a signed settlement agreement. Mississippi family law mediations usually begin in a joint session to go over the benefits of the process, which include lower costs, confidentiality, speedier results, less acrimony and putting power in the hands of the litigants, instead of a stranger. After the joint session, the mediator will have a lengthy private meeting with each party wherein they can tell their story. After the mediator has a handle on the facts, the parties, with the assistance of their attorney, begin to exchange offers in an attempt to move closer to a settlement.
While much less often used in Mississippi, other forms of ADR are arbitration and collaborative law.
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