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Alternative Dispute Resolution in St. Louis

Few legal matters heard by Missouri family courts are more complex and potentially contentious than those involving the dissolution of a marriage. In both procedural and emotional terms, it can be uniquely challenging to establish a mutually agreeable divorce order, even if both parties want to work together during the process, and especially if they disagree over any element of their divorce. Emotions are often very high when dealing with a divorce and can make a hard situation even more stressful.

Fortunately, there are ways for you and your partner to settle important issues during your divorce that don’t involve going to trial, provided you are both willing to provide honest information about your needs and desires and reach compromises when necessary. There are various kinds of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in St. Louis, all of which a qualified divorce advisor can discuss in detail during a private consultation.

Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Local divorce courts can and often do make binding decisions on matters like property division, child custody, and child support obligations when divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement, and neither party has much direct influence on the decision a judge ultimately makes. When a judge makes the decision, this usually leads to a Judgment that nobody is happy with. Additionally, taking a divorce to court is often expensive and time-consuming, and it can be much harder to maintain either party’s privacy during litigation.

By comparison, solving these issues through alternative dispute resolution outside of court is often a much cheaper and quicker option, as well as one that can be pursued in confidential settings, that only involve the negotiating parties and their legal counsel. Additionally, the possible solutions discussed during ADR sessions can be non-binding unless both parties sign a document formalizing what they have agreed upon, meaning there is virtually no downside to attempting to resolve contested issues through alternative dispute resolution in St. Louis.

ADR Options in St. Louis

Alternative dispute resolution is a blanket term for a variety of different methods by which divorcing parties can privately resolve contested marital issues without direct court involvement. Some of the most common methods of ADR that legal professionals in St. Louis often help with in the divorce process are mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce.


Mediation requires divorcing parties to meet with a neutral third party called a “mediator” who, without taking either party’s side, will work to facilitate open and honest communication between both spouses in the hopes that they can understand each other’s position and find a workable compromise. This can occur prior to the filing of a divorce or after.


Arbitration usually takes place after the filing of a divorce and involves the hiring of a neutral third party that will act as the judge. Arbitration is binding, and not all matters in a divorce case can be submitted to arbitration.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce law, on the other hand, is similar to mediation in practice but usually involves each party coming to an agreement before filing for a divorce. Collaborative Law involves each party having a collaborative lawyer who works together with a financial expert and a mental health expert, “the coach,” which form a “Team.” The team works together to meet the goal of resolving your case, focusing on reaching a solution that works for both parties and the children in a non-hostile and respectful manner. The lawyers then help  submit the required paperwork and seek final court approval on the couple’s behalf.

Discuss Methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution with a St. Louis Attorney

Importantly, alternative dispute resolution is not ideal for every divorcing couple. If you and your spouse are vehemently opposed to each other’s positions on numerous issues, or if there is any concern that your partner may not engage with the process in good faith, pursuing a more traditional resolution through court litigation is still a valid and effective option with the right legal counsel.

If it is appropriate for your situation, though, alternative dispute resolution in St. Louis can be a cost-effective way to get through the uncomfortable process of finalizing a divorce. Call today to learn more about participating in ADR to dissolve a marriage as quickly and efficiently as possible. Otherwise, consider exploring other available options for your divorce or family law dispute.

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