Alternatives to Litigation In Washington, D.C.
While the attorneys at Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC are experienced in the courts of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, having tried hundreds of cases, they also are prepared to assist clients who have considered, and preferred, alternatives to court action. Alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) consists of several options designed to promote cooperation in resolving disputes and often, provides a less costly way for parties to resolve their disputes in creative ways not available in litigation. Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC has experience with several ADR options available to couples seeking to reach an amicable resolution.
Anyone contemplating a court action should understand that as many as eight or nine out of ten lawsuits do not result in a trial with a decision made by a judge, and most of those which are not tried are settled by negotiations between the contending parties. In fact, most courts encourage, and often require, that parties attempt to work out the issues in dispute among themselves prior to presiding over a contested trial. The lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC have extensive experience in advocating for clients through negotiations, from identifying the information necessary to frame the issues in dispute to developing creative options tailored to the family’s specific circumstances.
Mediation is a specialized form of negotiation where the parties use a qualified mediator to guide them to a resolution through a process which can lead to an agreement. Prior to and during mediation, an experienced attorney can help the client in assessing whether to mediate, and even in selecting a mediator. Then, if mediation is pursued, the attorney can coach, review the data being considered, serve as a sounding board, and help generate ideas and solutions. The lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC have years of experience helping clients to navigate the mediation process as well as serving as trained mediators for others with disputes.
A recent, and expanding, approach to resolving legal cases, particularly in family law, is Collaborative Practice, which focuses on interest-based, rather than positional, negotiation. From the outset, parties commit to resolving their issues cooperatively, without involving a court or employing a third-party decision maker. Collaborative Practice involves a team of lawyers, mental health professionals and financial experts who work together to help separating or divorcing parties in resolving their disputes so that they obtain their goals and aspirations regarding how they want to co-parent their children, support themselves and their children and conclude their financial arrangements. The lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC are trained in Collaborative Practice, are active in various Collaborative Practice organizations in the local jurisdictions and have worked with numerous collaborative practitioners, including lawyers, psychologists, and accountants.
Arbitration involves employing a private judge, usually a lawyer, whom the parties authorize to make decisions about matters which the parties cannot resolve. The arbitrator can decide a single issue or to decide entire cases with many issues, both on procedure and the ultimate issues being litigated. Arbitration has evolved to provide a useful, and often desirable, alternative to a court proceeding, but any decision to use arbitration has to take into account the specific circumstances of the client and the case. The lawyers of Kuder, Smollar, Friedman & Mihalik, PC have experience both in advocating on behalf of clients in arbitrations and in serving as trained arbitrators for others’ disputes.