ADR, Mediation and Collaborative Law

What is ADR?

ADR means alternative dispute resolution. The ADR process provides means of resolving disputes through means other than acrimonius
and costly court proceedings. If you are applying for a divorce in Ireland, ADR can provide a cheap alternative to contested divorce applications. Mediation and collaborative law are both forms of ADR. Mediation and Collaborative law are not suited to cases where there is domestic violence.

How Does Mediation Work?

When it comes to family mediation Ireland has both public and private services on offer. Mediation is generally completed over four to five sessions. mediators do not act as judges or give legal advice. They are totally impartial. Parties to a mediation can tell the mediator matters they want to keep secret from the other side. Many mediators will not allow sessions to go much beyond and hour to an hour thirty minutes. The format the mediation sessions take depends on the mediator. Some mediators will have initial sessions with each party separately before commencing the mediation. Then the mediation sessions can proceed with the parties together in the same room or in separate rooms.The objective over the five sessions is to reach a Memorandun of Understanding. It is not legally binding however, the parties can take legal advice from a solicitor before sigining any mediation agreement. As part of the mediation process parties will have to declare their financial circumstances to eachother through the mediation process. Different sessions will deal with different topics such as arrangements for the children, financial matters, the family home/living arrangements and pensions.

Is a memorandum of understanding legally binding when we sign it?

No. However, the separate “Financial Summary” can be used in evidence against you if you fail to properly disclose your financial circumstances. The “memorandum of understanding” is not a contract.

Who mediates?

You can go to the state based Family Mediation Service. This is a public based service and is provided for free. However, they usually have large waiting lists depending on where you reside. You could also retain a private client family mediation service. This may cost money but on average will work out vastly cheaper than a contested court case and you generally have no waiting lists. It allows the parties to control their own costs. Private mediators generally charge an hourly rate. Many barristers and solicitors are also trained as mediators.

Also Collaborative Lawyers charge an hourly rate and have shorter waiting lists than the public mediation service.

How does Collaborative Law Work?

Collaborative law involves both parties and their lawyers sitting around a table to sort out their personal affairs on a Separation or Divorce. Collaborative law can also be used to resolve other types of dispute. The parties sign an agreement with their lawyers from the outset of the process. If the parties cannot reach an agreement in collaborative law then they must either instruct new lawyers or go to mediation. They cannot use their present lawyer to go to court over that family law dispute if the collaborative law process does not work out. Applications
for divorce in Ireland will change in nature over the next ten years with the advent of collaborative law in Ireland.

The beauty of the collaborative law process is that third party professionals can be drafted into the process such as divorce coaches and child care experts. Also the parties can retain joint accountants and financial experts rather than retaining two separate professionals at extra cost. Joint real estate agents can also be retained. The possibilites are limitless.

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