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Alternative dispute resolution

What it is and how it could save you money

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) encompasses a wide variety of practices and methods of tackling disagreements between people and/or entities. The essence of ADR is a commitment to trying to resolve conflicts out of court, without the oversight of a judge or jury.

Types of alternative dispute resolution

There are three main kinds of ADR being practiced in the legal field today:

There is also a lesser-known fourth type of ADR that is used primarily in minority indigenous communities. It’s called a talking circle or something similar. Family, friends, and/or leaders of the community get together with a person who is causing trouble, or people who cannot get along, to help them learn more peaceful, respectful ways of interacting with each other and the world at large.

What all these methods of dispute resolution have in common is that they offer a kinder, gentler option for litigants or potential litigants, that is, a less formal, more laidback approach that focuses on practical solutions rather than punishment or a win/lose mentality. Because the participants feel that their beliefs and feelings are acknowledged and listened to, and that they are being consulted on and helping to make their own decisions, the results tend to be more satisfying and longer lasting for everyone concerned.

Mediation

Mediation can be court-sponsored or private. It involves two or more opposing parties (people or organizations) getting together in a room or rooms in a building with a third-party mediator. The building usually is not a courthouse. The mediator is trained to moderate the discussion and try to help the parties reach mutually beneficial outcomes, but not force anyone to take a position with which he or she is uncomfortable or could not accept long-term.

Court-sponsored mediation is usually free of charge, unless you fail to show up. Private mediation varies widely in cost from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

Mediation may include opportunities for break-out sessions in which each party confers privately with the mediator and/or their counsel, if represented by one or more attorneys, and/or close family members or friends who have come along to support them through the process. There is no one right way to do mediation, but the overriding emphasis is always facilitating respectful, positive communications designed to get the parties to a full resolution of their dispute(s), or as close as possible on as many aspects as possible.

Arbitration

You may have heard the term binding arbitration or mandatory arbitration. In binding arbitration, whatever the arbitrator or arbiter decides has the force of a court order. Mandatory arbitration refers to a clause in the law or a contract in which the parties agree that if there is a dispute they will submit it to an arbitrator for resolution as a first step rather than going to court. This is a legal term and often is inserted in the fine print in contracts everyone is asked to sign or otherwise enter into with large corporations. This is one reason it is important to read the fine print.

Having arbitration as a required first step (or mediation, for that matter) is not necessarily bad. The majority of disputes are resolved this way, avoiding the much more time-consuming and costly route of a judicial proceeding. However, non-binding arbitration rulings can be appealed to a court of law.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law is the newest and perhaps most intriguing type of ADR. Based on a team concept, it focuses not on you or me, but simply we. Many kinds of professionals besides attorneys may participate in the process, such as mental health providers (typically called counselors or coaches), child-development specialists, financial experts, and any other team members the parties agree will be both beneficial and affordable.

One of the most interesting aspects of collaborative law is that the attorneys must sign an agreement that they will both withdraw from representation if the parties decide they want to take their dispute to court. This creates an incentive for the parties to stay engaged in the process until its logical conclusion so that they do not have to start all over, again explaining their situation and positions on each issue to new attorneys while simultaneously tackling the more adversarial and stressful court process.

Choosing the option that is right for you

The best option depends on what your needs are and whether the choice has already been made for you through a judge’s order or written contract. It also depends on whether you and the other party can play nice long enough to solve your problems without a judge.

For many people and situations, a less confrontational way to resolve disputes—one that respects the dignity of the players as human beings—almost always results in a better, more satisfying outcome.

So think about giving it a try. There are many attorneys who offer ADR services, including many who practice exclusively in ADR and many who are past judges. Some of them even have a bar-approved specialization certification in this area of law.

If alternative dispute resolution does not work

There is always the possibility that ADR might not work for you. But at least you could say you tried. Then you could still have an experienced family law attorney by your side throughout the court process.

The future of alternative dispute resolution

Traditionally, ADR has been used most commonly in family law, particularly divorces. But it is also becoming increasingly popular in other kinds of civil disputes. For obvious reasons, ADR still is not used to a great extent in criminal law because of the serious public-safety concerns and consequences or punishment goals in that area of law. Nevertheless, alternatives to traditional criminal court proceedings, such as deferred sentencing for completion of probation or drug rehab for nonviolent crimes, are starting to gain traction in criminal matters.

What is the future of ADR? The sky is the limit. Wherever the need for alternative dispute resolution presents itself, ADR will grow and expand to fill the demand.

Disclaimer: This legal guide provides general information, not legal advice that can be applied to any specific matter. It does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

What people are saying about Joan Bundy Law…

Having you for a lawyer was the best thing I did…

Oh my goodness! I have been at this for months! I can’t thank you enough for helping me through it! You made all the difference. Thank you again Joan! Having you for a lawyer was the best thing I did in this whole thing.

— E.H. | Post-decree matter

E.H.

…I really appreciate all of the help you gave me!

Thank you…for all of your help with this case, as well as being so patient with the other party and their lawyer. I really appreciate all of the help you gave me!

— C.R. | Animal law matter

CR

Thank you Joan…

Thank you Joan for your legal advice and your good listening ear.

— P. S. | Animal law matter

PS

…I feel like I’m on cloud nine!…

OMG…I am still soooooooo happy, I feel like I am on cloud nine!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You again…I don’t feel like I can say it enough!

— E.B. | Child visitation and support matter

EB

…I feel like I’m on cloud nine!…

OMG…I am still soooooooo happy, I feel like I am on cloud nine!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You again…I don’t feel like I can say it enough!

— E.B. | Child visitation and support matter

EB

…I’d be lost without you…

I greatly appreciate all your help and knowledge, I’d be lost without you in all this and you made me feel at ease and calm. It was great getting to know you. Thanks again!

— M. F. | Child custody matter

MF

…I can’t express our gratitude and appreciation enough!…

[We] want to thank you for all your help with this!! … I can’t express our gratitude and appreciation enough! I couldn’t have done it without you! We will be in touch!

— T. S. | Parental termination matter

TS

…Yes, we did triumph…

Thank you, Joan, for everything….Yes, we did triumph. I hope that [father] could see that I truly am moving forward for the kids’ sake.

— A. A. | Child custody matter

AA

…I was so glad to have you represent me.

Thank you for all of your help and noticing the refund. … I was so glad to have you represent me.

— S. S. | Divorce/relocation matter

SS

…Thank you for being an advocate for animals.

I need to remember that there are good people out there like you! Thank you for being an advocate for animals.

— M.V. | Animal law matter

MV

Thank you so much…

Thank you so much for your boost and help!

— M. S. | Divorce matter

MS

We would like to thank you for everything…

We would like to thank you for everything. We will be in touch.

— J.R | Child custody/Support matter

JR

…I appreciate your help!

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your help!

— M. S. | Divorce matter

MS

…thank you for helping me…

This is a scary place to be and thank you for helping me to navigate through it.

— D. .M. | Divorce matter

DM

…YOU ROCK!

Thanks Joan as I have stated before…YOU ROCK!

— D. .M. | Divorce matter

DM

…you have been a good listener.

Thank you so much.  You have helped me so much with good legal advice and beyond that, and more important, you have been a good listener.

— R.P. | Legal separation/Divorce matter

RP

…I highly recommend [Joan] for all your personal legal needs.

Joan is a great person, with compassion, and knowledge to help you through troublesome times. She realized that I had particular problems in my divorce, and helped me with timeliness and professionalism that a quality attorney gives to her client. She listens well and represents honesty. I highly recommend her for all your personal legal needs.

— J. S. | Legal separation/Divorce matter

JS

…I would highly recommend Joan to anyone who wants someone with intelligence and integrity to represent them.

Joan helped me through a very long and difficult process, trying to collect on a settlement. She put a lot of time and effort into my case and never gave up. As a result, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and can take a deep breath! I would highly recommend Joan to anyone who wants someone with intelligence and integrity to represent them.

— C. W. | Post-decree matter

CW

…I really felt like she cared.

I hired Joan to handle my divorce. Although the process itself was difficult, Joan made it much easier. She handled my case with compassion and professionalism. She gave me a clear and accurate fee schedule so I knew exactly how much I could expect to pay. She was always available to answer any of my questions or concerns. I really felt like she cared.

— S.P. | Divorce matter

SP

I was very impressed with the legal services that Joan provided…

I was very impressed with the legal services that Joan provided and she was able to assist in me getting my overpaid alimony money back.

— S.H. | Post-decree matter

SH

…I am so glad I hired Joan for my issues.

I initially talked with another firm (a large family practice here in Phoenix) and I just did not get the warm and fuzzy feeling that they were going to do everything I required. Joan certainly did and I am so glad I hired Joan for my issues.

— S.H. | Post-decree matter

SH

…I recommend her highly.

Joan is a very intelligent and professional attorney that listens carefully and offers very sound advice. I recommend her highly.

— L. N. | Initial consultation

LN

…Words cannot express what peace having you involved gives us.

Thank you for all your help thus far. Words cannot express what peace having you involved gives us.

— K, S. | Guardianship matter

KS

When I couldn’t even get a call back from ANY attorney with my problem, Joan called me back.

When I couldn’t even get a call back from ANY attorney with my problem, Joan called me back.

— C.R. | Animal law matter

CR

…[Joan] continued to assist me and give me courage to my favorable conclusion.

Even though she felt I could handle my situation without an attorney, she continued to assist me and give me courage to my favorable conclusion.

— C.R. | Animal law matter

CR

…Joan handled it with utmost confidence and professionalism.

Despite my case being VERY complicated, Joan handled it with utmost confidence and professionalism.

— T.D. | Same-sex matter

TD

…[Joan] responded to me in less then 24 hours…

When I found myself in the unthinkable with the end of my 16 year marriage upon me, I reached out to Joan.  She responded to me in less then 24 hours and helped put me at ease in reference to his threats.

— M. F. | Divorce/Pet custody matter

MF

…[Joan] can only be described as compassionate and competent in her handling of my case.

From the moment I began working with Joan, she can only be described as compassionate and competent in her handling of my case.

— M. F. | Divorce/Pet custody matter

MF

Joan was very motivated, organized, responsive, and thorough in communication.

Joan was very motivated, organized, responsive, and thorough in communication.

— B. F. | Same-sex matter

BF

She is very supportive of families of all make-ups…

She is very supportive of families of all make-ups and understands Arizona laws surrounding married, unmarried, and LGBT families.

— B. F. | Same-sex matter

BF

…If you are looking for a kind and trustworthy attorney, hire Joan Bundy.

[E]very email and phone call I made, was returned personally by Joan within 24 hours. If you are looking for a kind and trustworthy attorney, hire Joan Bundy.

— W. S. | Legal separation matter

WS

…Ms. Bundy is stellar compared to what we have dealt with in the past.

Communication via email, phone or otherwise is immediately addressed, and, quite frankly, after utilizing the services of another similar attorney, Ms. Bundy is stellar compared to what we have dealt with in the past.

— K.R. | Post-nuptial matter

KR

…Ms. Bundy had our best interests at heart.

The communications process was smooth and efficient, professional and left us in no doubt whatsoever Ms. Bundy had our best interests at heart.  She is a very caring, understanding and compassionate attorney – a true rare breed in today’s world!

— K.R. | Post-nuptial matter

KR

I found her to be competent, professional and assertive…

I found her to be competent, professional and assertive when she needed to be. I would highly recommend her if you are looking for an attorney.

— C.W. | Post-decree matter

CW

…I would definitely recommend Ms. Bundy as a divorce attorney.

She was aggressive, but appropriate, in her dealings with my ex-husband, for which I was grateful.  Additionally, she was very ethical in her billing practices.  I would definitely recommend Ms. Bundy as a divorce attorney.

— K.H. | Divorce matter

KH

…In the courtroom Joan was assertive, took action, and was effective.

Ms. Bundy displayed a genuine concern for the outcome of my case and put heart and soul into every action.  In the courtroom Joan was assertive, took action, and was effective.

— L. S. | Child custody matter

LS

…Joan was always professional, timely and compassionate…

As a single parent of four children navigating a complicated history of court filings, proceeding, evaluations etc… I needed someone knowledgeable and sensitive to the nature of not just the case but the family behind it. Joan was always professional, timely and compassionate concerning my families wants, needs, financial situation, and overall desired outcome.

— L.S. | Child custody matter

LS

…Thank you, Joan, for helping us with our case!

Communication was quick and clear, and we would recommend her for anyone of need of legal services. Thank you, Joan, for helping us with our case!

— N.R. | Animal law matter

NR

…Joan is honest and upfront and I couldn’t have asked for a better attorney.

I was very emotionally distraught and I had no idea what to expect in court, but she was very supportive and reassuring. Joan is honest and upfront and I couldn’t have asked for a better attorney.

— N.H. | Protective order matter

NH

…[Joan] is supportive of families regardless of what they look like, and was very comforting during a very difficult time.

Joan was very friendly, knowledgeable, and thorough in preparation and communication. She is supportive of families regardless of what they look like, and was very comforting during a very difficult time.

— B. F. | Same-sex matter

BF

…[Joan] helped me get myself back together.

I called Joan, and she first calmed me down and told me all would be all right and it was going to be fixed. When I called her, I was an emotional wreck, and she helped me get myself back together so that she could help me get this done.

— R. A. | Divorce matter

RA

…My divorce was as quick and as painless as it could possibly be because of her quality work.

I can speak volumes on her professionalism, amazing response times and great character. She was always available by phone, email or in person. My divorce was as quick and as painless as it could possibly be because of her quality work.

— J. M. | Divorce matter

JM

…I really felt like she cared.

She handled my case with compassion and professionalism….She was always available to answer any of my questions or concerns. I really felt like she cared.

— S.P. | Divorce matter

SP

Joan handled my case with a great deal of professionalism.

Joan handled my case with a great deal of professionalism.

— D. M. | Divorce matter

DM

…you get what you pay for with Joan…

[A] good family law attorney is going to be relatively expensive… it is a field that requires loads of knowledge, experience and time. At least you get what you pay for with Joan, and without “surprises.”

— J. L. | Child custody matter

JL

…[Joan] eased my concerns and kept me informed throughout every step in the process…

She responded quickly to every email I ever sent her and patiently answered all my questions, eased my concerns and kept me informed throughout every step in the process, a most important courtesy when going through such a difficult time.

— J. L. | Child custody matter

JL

…[Joan] has worked hard and efficiently…

She has worked hard and efficiently with me to ensure that I had the best possible shot in court and represented me very well when the day finally came.

— J. L. | Child custody matter

JL

…We highly recommend [Joan] for working with same sex parents or opposite sex parenting plan needs.

Throughout everything, Joan handled the situation with the upmost professionalism. We highly recommend her for working with same sex parents or opposite sex parenting plan needs.

— Anonymous | Same-sex matter

Anonymous

Joan was very professional while handling my case…

Joan was very professional while handling my case against an attorney that was less then ethical. Joan held her ground and remained confident the entire time.

— D.M. | Divorce matter

Anonymous

Joan was very professional while handling my case…

Joan was very professional while handling my case against an attorney that was less then ethical. Joan held her ground and remained confident the entire time.

— D. M. | Divorce matter

DM

I would highly recommend Joan Bundy…

She is and has been very organized and keeps up to date with details regarding my case. She also has taken swift action when it has been necessary. I would highly recommend Joan Bundy if you are looking for an assertive, capable and compassionate attorney.

— C.W. | Post-decree matter

CW

[Joan’s] patience with me not only helped win both legal cases, but has allowed me to start getting back on my feet.

I was facing a couple of different legal as well as medical problems and Joan was always very patient, doing what I asked unless there was a specific or strategic reason not to. Her patience with me not only helped win both legal cases, but has allowed me to start getting back on my feet.

— Rob | Avvo, 2011

Rob

Joan Bundy is a family attorney who is very dedicated to her profession…

Joan Bundy is a family attorney who is very dedicated to her profession and is becoming a force to be reckoned with. If you want an attorney who is honest to a fault and dedicated to her profession, there is none better.

— S.B. | Child custody matter

SB

[Joan] won my case all the way…

I know the best thing I could have done was hire her as my attorney in my situation being I have children I wanted my divorce done right. Joan surely did the job. She won my case all the way and I would definitely keep her as my lawyer for anything in the future.

— S. S. | Divorce matter

SS

[Joan] showed that she was very easy to talk to she listened…

When we first met with the lawyer she showed that she was very easy to talk to she listened gave us options and did not come across stuffy like the first one we had talked to from another firm.

— K. M. | Post-decree matter

KM

…We couldn’t have asked for a better representation.

You have really helped us get on top of this situation and gave [us] the confidence that [we] needed to be able to put [our] foot down for [our] daughter. We couldn’t have asked for a better representation.

— C. M. | Post-decree matter

CM

You are the greatest!…

You are the greatest! Thanks so much for caring….I WON! …Thanks again for your guidance!

— C. R. | Animal law matter

CR

…She listens well and represents honesty.

Joan is a great person, with compassion, and knowledge to help you through troublesome times. She realized that I had particular problems in my divorce, and helped me with timeliness and professionalism that a quality attorney gives to her client. She listens well and represents honesty.

— J. S. | Divorce matter

JS

You have been a great influence and help in my life.

You have been a great influence and help in my life.

— M. S. | Divorce matter

MS

I will continue referring others to you…

I will continue referring others to you. I appreciated your timely and quality advice as well as your professionalism.

— R.R. | Child-custody and child-support modification

RR

Joan proved to be very knowledgeable and competent…

I used Joan’s practice for my divorce. Although it was quite straightforward, no debts, no estate, no kids, the difficulty was that from my part, it was long-distance and international since I reside in France. Joan proved to be very knowledgeable and competent, she gave me clear information and advice about what would happen and the applicable laws.

— V.J. | Divorce matter

VJ

[Joan] helped us accomplish everything we set out to do.

Joan was very attentive to our situation and needs. She always got back to us in a timely manner. All of our questions and concerns were addressed. She helped us accomplish everything we set out to do.

— J.V. | Post-decree modification/relocation matter

JV

[Joan] is the most professional lawyer I have ever had…

She is the most professional lawyer I have ever had. She responds quickly and is way more knowledgeable than any of my previous lawyers.

— A.C. | Child custody matter

AC

Contact a Chandler legal separation attorney

If you are thinking about filing for legal separation or have to respond to a petition for one, be sure to consult with an Arizona family law attorney who is knowledgeable in and has considerable expertise with legal separations. Do not go it alone.

Call Joan Bundy Law at 480.463.4600 to find out how an experienced Chandler legal separation attorney can help guide you through the complexities.

Contact Chandler divorce and family lawyer Joan Bundy.