People who are in civil disputes in Connecticut may want to explore the options offered through alternative dispute resolution methods.

There is no one-size-fits-all path to resolution when it comes to a civil dispute in Connecticut. In some issues, the parties may be able to reach an agreement through simple discussions and facilitated communication. In other matters, courts may have to get involved to make a final ruling. And in a number of cases, parties may try to reach a settlement outside trial and fail, forcing the matter to go to court.

Though litigation may be necessary, most people try to avoid it because it is not as time- and cost-effective as other options. Here, we explore alternative dispute resolution: the different types, how they work, and when it may be beneficial.

A different approach

Alternative dispute resolution is exactly what it sounds like: another way of reaching an agreement. As the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch points out, there are a number of issues that may be legally resolved in the state using one of these methods, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. Each offers its own benefits, depending on the circumstances of those involved.

Mediation involves a neutral third party who facilitates the negotiations among all sides of a case. The mediator may help to identify key issues and develop possible solutions. However, the mediator has no final say or ruling. Instead, the parties develop that themselves and agree to it.

A collaborative law process is similar to mediation because it involves the parties working together toward a solution to the problem. While attorneys are optional in mediation, they are mandatory in the collaborative process. Collaborative law includes a comprehensive discovery process.

Lastly, there is arbitration. Here again, there is a neutral third party - or several arbitrators - to oversee the negotiations. Typically, in binding arbitration, these parties listen to both sides and make decisions about the case. The outcome is considered legally enforceable.

When to use ADR

Most people seek ADR methods because of their ability to cut down on costs and other resources. When there is a chance of settling an issue outside of court, exploring ADR is prudent. Typically, these methods work best when parties are willing to work together.

As the U.S. Department of Justice points out, there is an impressive success rate for ADR. In 2016, the department notes, 75 percent of issues were resolved when parties entered ADR voluntarily.

Consider that ADR is not always appropriate. For example, in some of these proceedings, there may be evidence presented that would not be admissible in court due to procedural laws. Traditional litigation may offer more protections for someone embroiled in a highly complex dispute.

The best bet is to discuss a specific issue with an attorney who is well-versed in both litigation and ADR. He or she is able to assess what would be most beneficial for the client. People who have further concerns about this topic should speak with a litigation attorney in Connecticut.