The Court system has a budget problem arising from an increase in case filings with no corresponding budget increase to handle the additional caseload. The current financial crisis does not appear to have decreased Family Court filings: over 40,000 new petitions were filed in 2008. Many people going through divorce or custody disputes may not be aware that there are alternate ways to resolve their disputes without going to court. The alternate approaches include private arbitration, mediation, or a new Delaware program, Parenting Coordination.
If both parties agree, rather than waiting for a hearing date from the Court, they can stipulate to have their property division and alimony issues heard by a mutually selected attorney at an arbitration hearing. An arbitrator would render a decision regarding any issues submitted by the parties to the arbitrator. Arbitration is generally a less formal process than a full hearing before a Judge.
Mediators can assist parties in resolving property division, alimony, custody, visitation, and support issues. Unlike arbitrators, mediators cannot make decisions, but rather assist the parties in coming to an agreement.
Parenting Coordinators are trained lawyers and mental health professionals who assist high-conflict parents in resolving a variety of issues and work to help keep these parents from returning to Court repeatedly. This approach can save money and time by decreasing the filings, and hopefully can reduce the hostility between the parents.
If you are interested in pursuing an alternate route to divorce or custody matters, MacElree Harvey has attorneys able to serve as arbitrators, mediators, and Parent Coordinators.
The following article is informational only and not intended as legal advice. Speak with a licensed attorney about your own specific situation. © Copyright 2011 MacElree Harvey, Ltd. All rights reserved.