JAMS ADR Insights

Using ADR in Family Law Cases Involving Digital Assets

December 9, 2022

By Hon. Lorna A. Alksne (Ret.), Daniel B. Garrie, Esq. & Hon. Jackson Lucky (Ret.)

Of all the types of legal cases, family law cases are often the most complex. “They’re like a pie, and there are different slices,” explains JAMS neutral Hon. Lorna A. Alksne (Ret.). “There’s child custody, there’s child support, there’s property, there’s debt.” Family law cases are also among the most urgent, with the lives of both disputing parties—and, more importantly, any children they might share—hanging in the balance until a resolution is reached. Finally, family law cases are emotional. They involve the dissolution of a marriage—of a family—and that’s always fraught.

The complex, urgent and emotional nature of family law cases makes them difficult to resolve in a traditional court. “In court, the press of other business is constantly pushing on the judges to finish one case and start with the next one,” says Alksne, making examining the intricacies of each family law case challenging. Moreover, because many courts are overloaded, “Hearing dates are a long way off,” says JAMS neutral Hon. Jackson Lucky (Ret.). And, of course, the adversarial nature of litigation only heightens emotions. “You’re trying to make a deal to split someone’s life apart,” says JAMS neutral Daniel B. Garrie, Esq. “That’s already hard enough. But it’s much harder when you try to do it using litigation.”

It’s no wonder more and more disputing parties in family law cases are turning to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to settle their conflicts. Indeed, ADR addresses all three of these problems. “ADR professionals are less burdened than some family law bench officers are,” says Lucky. “So, especially when there are voluminous documents, they have the ability to review each document without worrying about the 20 matters that are on calendar for tomorrow.” Alksne agrees, noting, “Any case can be done quicker, with more time and attention, with ADR.” ADR helps de-escalate tensions too—and that’s better for everyone. “Every case that goes through ADR that settles is better for the children and is better for the disputing parties,” says Alksne.

To read the full article, go to the JAMS ADR

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