Family Law Mediation and Arbitration

In family law, legal problems may be resolved in a number of ways. Recognizing the expense, uncertainty, and time entailed in traditional litigation, courts in recent years have mandated or encouraged alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and arbitration.

At Palmer Rodak & Associates, with offices in Oceanside and Del Mar, we are experienced in obtaining positive results for clients using ADR techniques in family law matters. One of the principals of our firm, attorney Matthew E. Palmer, serves as Pro Tem Mediator for Family Court Services in court-ordered mediation proceedings, as a private mediator, and represents clients in mediation proceedings.

How Mediation Works

The process of mediation encourages parties in a family law dispute to solve their problem through a guided discussion which uncovers areas of mutual agreement. When there is a disagreement, the mediator attempts to develop a consensus and agreement which is satisfactory to both parties. Unlike the adversarial process which dwells on the wrongs of the past, mediation focuses the attention of the parties on the future.

Mediation vs. Litigation

The advantages of mediation over litigation include:

  • Less confrontational and emotional than litigation
  • Encourages workable solutions
  • Less costly and time-consuming
  • Allows the parties to control the situation, rather than being at the mercy of a judge
  • Provides a more predictable outcome than a trial
  • More privacy regarding financial records

Throughout the mediation process, each party retains the right to go to litigation if the process breaks down.

Using Mediation to Establish a Parenting Plan

Mediation is especially useful in the development of parenting plans. Children see their parents coming to an agreement without a nasty court fight. As a result, they experience less emotional trauma and uncertainty, and more easily adapt to the new reality of their lives. Often, the court will accept a mediated parenting plan as the permanent order, without the parents having to come to court.


Arbitration is another form of alternative dispute resolution that is becoming a popular alternative to divorce litigation. In arbitration, evidence is presented to a third-party arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) who determine how the case will be settled. Arbitration can be binding or nonbinding, and is generally faster and more private than divorce litigation.

Learn Whether Mediation or Arbitration Is Right for You

Divorce mediation and arbitration are not appropriate for every situation. Our lawyers can help you determine your best legal option. For a free consultation, call 858-356-4568 or contact us online.