The Massachusetts Trial Court not only offers, but also encourages, alternative dispute resolution in family law matters such as divorce and child custody. As such, they have produced a guide for both represented and non-represented parties detailing alternative methods to reach a resolution outside of the courtroom. Family law matters are among the most stressful types of cases. When disputes can be settled outside of a courtroom, it allows parties to pick up the pieces and move forward with as little damage as possible.

Seven different types of alternative resolutions are noted. They include arbitration, mediation, conciliation, case evaluation, mini-trial, summary jury trial and dispute intervention. An experienced family law attorney will be able to discuss each method in detail, and attempt to determine which would be most suitable based on the facts of your particular case.

There are a number of benefits to entering into mediation or any other alternative dispute resolution. When parties are willing and able to set aside emotions and approach a conflict reasonably, cases may be settled in a much more timely manner. In addition, these methods provide confidentiality, customized solutions and a large savings on the costs of a contested divorce. Even when an alternative dispute resolution does not result in a fully finalized agreement, getting most disputes settled early on in a case can help narrow the issues to be addressed at trial.

Consulting with a mediator can offer new insights into settling matters that seem to have no resolution in sight. Experienced mediators who negotiate family law cases on a regular basis are accustomed to offering creative solutions which may not otherwise be considered.