Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provides you with the means to come to an agreement over a dispute without resorting to litigation. ADR is growing in popularity with both attorneys and the general public as it can provide cheaper alternatives to litigation and allow greater control over the settlement of disputes. Some courts may require you to submit your dispute to ADR before proceeding with litigation. The most common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. Other forms of ADR include judicial settlements and the relatively new, but very popular, collaborative law process. Our professionals are trained in the various forms of ADR, and encourage their use. Our firm also has Rule 31 Mediators who are certified to conduct a mediation between disputing parties.
Mediation is one of the more popular and less formal alternatives to litigation. Mediation involves the use of a certified mediator who assists the parties in reaching resolution. Mediation allows you and your counsel a more active role in the decision-making process.
Arbitration is another one of the more popular forms of ADR, though proceedings are more formal and more akin to a court proceeding than those in mediation. Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory; mandatory arbitration proceedings are usually imposed by statute or by a contract you have voluntarily entered into. Arbitration is generally binding, though there are forms of nonbinding arbitration. In Tuetken v. Tuetken, 320 S.W. 262 (Tenn. 2010), the Tennessee Supreme Court held that parties may not submit custody issues to binding arbitration. Parties are able to submit custody issues to non-binding arbitration pursuant to Rule 31 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.
A judicial settlement conference is a type of mediation. However, instead of using a Rule 31 Mediator to assist, the parties work with a sitting judge to work towards resolution. The conference is attended by you, your attorney, your adversary, and your adversary’s attorney. Judicial Settlement Conferences tend to be useful to provide both parties with the Court’s possible perspective on their case.