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Not all divorces need to be contested and decided by a judge in a courtroom. Spouses that are more amicable may be able to come to an agreement about their respective rights and obligations after the divorce and enter into a separation agreement rather than having a judge decide these issues. Even if the spouses aren’t able to completely agree on their own, they can seek alternative dispute resolution rather than a court hearing. Instead of a court hearing in front of a judge, spouses can proceed with a mediated divorce. Some courts will even require mediation before proceeding directly with litigation.


Litigation is a legal proceeding in court. Litigated divorces require the filing of documents, formal discovery, and the presentation of witness testimony and other evidence. These procedures, particularly discovery, can be costly and time consuming. Mediation is a process involving spouses attempting to resolve their dispute with the help of a third party, known as a mediator.

Divorce mediation is more cost effective than divorce litigation in a courtroom, as well as usually speedier. Litigated divorces take months, or even years if greatly contested. This extra time also usually results in greater expense. Instead, a mediated divorce typically helps expedite the process. Additionally, while the court process is adversarial, mediation typically helps spouses compromise, which helps speed up the process. There is also the added benefit that because mediation is less adversarial and involves less confrontation, spouses that choose mediation may leave the divorce more amicable, which is especially important if children are involved. Another benefit of mediation is privacy. Court proceedings from litigated divorces are public record. Alternatively, the mediation process is not part of the public record and can be kept confidential, provided both spouses keep the proceedings private.

Mediated divorces also allow the spouses to retain more control over their divorce and resulting rights and obligations after the divorce. If a divorce is litigated before a judge, the judge has final say on divorce matters, including property division and spousal support. With mediation, the mediator is a facilitator, not a judge. While the mediator will help the parties find common ground and come to a decision together, the parties have the ultimate say in what is decided.

While mediation itself isn’t legally binding, any resulting agreement between the parties is an enforceable contract, if signed and executed properly. However, any agreement that address child support or child custody and visitation must be approved by a judge to ensure the agreement is in the best interests of the child.

However, mediation is not for every couple. Some couples simply may not be able to come to an agreement, even with the help of a mediator. In these instances, the parties would need to go to court and have a judge make the necessary determinations. Additionally, if the parties are not able to be amicable or speak to each other productively, mediation is unlikely to be successful since it requires the parties to work together to come to a solution. Mediation also may not be a suitable choice if the relationship has a history of domestic abuse, manipulation, a significant imbalance of power, such as financial dependency, or where one or both spouses have mental health issues. While mediation does offer many couples advantages over a litigated divorce, each spouse and couple needs to evaluate their individual situation and determine which method is best for them.

Divorce Arbitration

While mediation is the most common form of alternative dispute resolution in divorce matters, divorce arbitration is also available. Arbitration also involves a neutral third party outside of a courtroom, but is more similar to the traditional adversarial nature present in a courtroom. Similar to a litigated divorce where the judge makes a final determination, in divorce arbitration, the arbitrator will make the final decision, which is usually legally binding. Arbitration is common in instances when the couple entered into a marital agreement that stipulated the parties would utilize arbitration in the event of divorce.

Collaborative Divorce

Another method of divorce alternative dispute resolution is collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce involves out of court sessions where spouses receive legal advice from attorneys trained in the collaborative process with the goal of an amicable and fair resolution for both parties. While it shares similarities with mediation in that it is often cheaper and faster than litigated divorce, collaborative divorce includes guidance from trained divorce lawyers. Collaborative divorce often includes a team of professionals, in addition to divorce attorneys.

For example, collaborative divorce often includes a mental health professional to assist with communication and child-related issues, as well as a financial professional to assist with collecting necessary financial information regarding assets and debts of the parties. This collaborative team works together with the spouses to work through emotional, financial, and legal issues to come to a mutual agreement of the parties’ rights and obligations after divorce.

In collaborative divorce there is a key theory of mutual respect and cooperation between spouses to help meet the needs of both parties. At the end of the process, the attorneys would create a separation agreement agreed to by both parties which would be incorporated into the court’s divorce order.

While alternative dispute resolution may not work for all couples, it offers many advantages for couples that choose these methods. If you’re considering utilizing one of these methods in your divorce, our attorneys can talk you through the options and help determine which process is best for you.

What Other Clients Have Said About Our Family Law Practice


Ms Johana Foard and her colleagues took over my Divorce case that had been lingering for over 2 years with no hope in sight!!! My other attorney took advantage of me being out of State, after thousands of dollars! Within 3 weeks Johana and her staff closed out my divorce even after opposing counsel was dragging her feet and not sending in the signed agreement that my ex- wife and I had agreed on. Johana took it upon herself to make sure it happened! I would definitely recommend Johana and staff! Thanks Johana!!!


Look No Further For Family Law Representation

Obviously when you require legal services it’s awesome to find someone that you can be confident with and comfortable in your dealings.

Joanna Foard is that attorney!

She is easy to speak with, detailed when it comes to that moment when you stand before the bench and most importantly prepared.

What a relief to be represented in such a professional manner!

Thank you sooo much!


Professionalism, honesty, and efficiency… Joanna has it all!

I hired Joanna after a long drawn out battle of a divorce. Once I finished my divorce I went to Joanna with the intention of getting my child to my planned home with my new husband. Fast forward just a few months and we are now married and happily residing in Hawaii. Throughout the process Joanna was always honest, to the point, and efficient in what she expected of the courts and how my situation looked. I would recommend her to anyone looking for someone who can get results and be forthright in what you can expect.


We won !!!

Joanna represented me in a domestic violence stalking injunction case in which I was wrongly accused of stalking. She was thoroughly prepared for the hearing, and made sure to answer all of my questions before the hearing occurred so that I knew exactly what to expect, and what questions I would be asked. It is really unnerving to be accused of something that you did not do, and I am so grateful to Joanna for easing my fears and helping get the injunction dismissed! I would definitely recommend her to my family and friends, or anyone who needs an aggressive attorney that truly listens to your concerns and is totally on their side. I can’t thank you enough or recommend you enough, Joanna!


Honest lawyer who keeps it real!

When you first meet with Joanna it is like you are talking to an old friend. She is very knowledgeable along with being empathetic to your situation. Don’t let that fool you though, as soon as the time is right the boxing gloves come on and she is prepared and ready to fight.


Clear and compassionate

I consulted with Joanna regarding a dispute over some intricacies of a contract. She instantly understood my case and was wonderful at quickly explaining what breaches had occurred and what options I had moving forward. When I didn’t understand a finer point, she was happy to explain it until I did. Speaking with Joanna is a pleasure and I cannot recommend her highly enough for her kind and straightforward professionalism.


Amazing attorney

I can’t begin to tell you where I should start when talking about Joanna. She comes across very sweet and innocent, but once you get to know her she is like a lion ready to pounce. I hired Joanna to take over when our previous attorney switched the type of law she was practicing. She picked up in the middle and carried it all the way through. She really makes you feel like you are a friend and not just a client. I would give her 10 stars if I could. Joanna is amazing.


The best there is.

Joanna Caccioppoli is a consummate professional, and more. She was extremely helpful throughout my divorce; not only with the outstanding legal advice she provides, but with empathy. Should you contact her, she is quick to get back to you. She works hard to get you what you deserve. She pulled my losing battle into an utter victory. I could not be more thankful to have had her in my corner.


Herculean Effort

Joanna is incredibly hard-working, understanding, knowledgeable, and responsive. Besides all that, she’s a pleasure to work with…which is so appreciated given the difficult issues she’s helped us work through. I’ve often thanked her for the Herculean effort she’s put forth on behalf of my family and me. I would highly recommend Joanna.


The Personal Touch

After consulting with a few attorneys, I hired Joanna to work my case because she made me feel at ease. I couldn’t believe how responsive she was to every question and concern I had. She often proactively followed up just to see how I was doing if she hadn’t heard from me in a few days. She is thorough, informative, and personable. Just what I needed while going through one of the most difficult times of my life.


A Genuine People Person who Happens to Practice Law

Joanna was by far the kindest and most considerate attorney I have hired. From our first encounter through the conclusion of our case, my wife and I had no doubt that our best interest was at the forefront of her mind. She and her team worked efficiently to make the best use of the fees we paid. Joanna also expertly explained Latin-based legal terminology to us in plain English, so that we knew exactly what was going on. The case was resolved to our satisfaction and I highly recommend her services. I will not hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Joanna again, should the need arise.


Professional Problem Solver

Joanna was an absolute angel! Professional, knowledgeable, compassionate and patient. She listened to gain understanding of my concerns. She outlined a plan in a clear and concise manner. She achieved the best case outcome for my difficult situation. Very pleased with the results, and have no reservations about recommending her to anyone in a challenging situation that needs resolving by a sharp, clear-thinking pro.


Divorce completed in 8 weeks

Joanna was attentive to every detail of my case. She was available for my questions and returned my calls and emails promptly. Joanna’s attention to detail and compassionate heart made me know I was not just another file in her case-load. She is a compassionate attorney who goes above and beyond to make sure her clients feel cared for and know that she is taking care of them. She prepared me for court by running me through all the questions that would be asked, so I never felt off guard. Joanna made a very difficult situation as smooth and painless as possible.


Professional, Passionate, Proficient and very Pleasant to work with!

Joanna assisted with navigating a difficult divorce agreement when emotions were running high. My original lawyer failed to move proceedings along at an appropriate pace, and I hired Joanna to pick up from where he left off, and from Day 1 Joanna was on the ball, holding the opposing party accountable for their actions, and ensuring a timely and suitable resolution to our case.

She stuck to the facts, allowed the truth to be showcased, and stood her ground when personal attacks came our direction. With Joanna in your corner, you never have to feel alone. She will defend you and your position like a Pitbull if necessary, but was always great to work with, and carried with her an upbeat demeanor at all times.

I’d highly recommend Joanna’s services to anyone that needs not only professional representation, but also a friend as you navigate through a difficult scenario!


Highly recommended

Joanna Foard has been my family law attorney for the past several months, and I have felt so supported and attended to. She spent so much time with me on our initial consultation, and put me at ease and felt like a friend. My case has been very challenging and there has been so much uncertainty. I felt a relief just having her represent me. She got right to work without missing a beat and truly took my financial concerns into account. She has been honest and straightforward. She has not only been incredibly responsive, but she has shown she truly cares about my situation and wants to help bring resolve and peace. She responds to emails quickly, and if I call unexpectedly, she has either taken the call or returned the call in a timely manner. She is kind and supportive. She even sent a heartfelt sympathy card when I lost my grandmother. I don’t know any attorney who would take the time to do that. She is thorough and thinks out of the box. She is clear and concise, but that’s not to say she won’t take the time needed to ensure my questions are answered. Although she is not able to see my case through to the end due to her out-of-state move, she has never dropped the ball, and has only treated me with respect and consideration. I recommend her without reservation.