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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Montgomery County, PA – A More Amicable Process

It is possible and increasingly common to divorce in a more amicable way and avoid litigation using forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that are widely utilized — and even encouraged by — family law courts in Pennsylvania, including those in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Philadelphia counties.

Because divorce can easily become a contentious and costly process, many couples are electing to dissolve their marriage outside of the courtroom.

Related Family Law Client Review: “Attorney Materese was amazing throughout the entire divorce process. She handled my case with utmost professionalism through difficult circumstances. She was responsive, diligent and tenacious throughout. I have and will continue to recommend her highly to others finding themselves in need of divorce and family law expertise.” Craig T. (June 2019)

At our Montgomery County family law firm, we strive towards cost effective approaches while vigorously advocating for our clients’ best interests. If you would like to discuss alternative dispute resolution matters, contact firm founder Inna Materese.

ADR Solutions


This more comfortable, affordable, and private option involves an independent third-party mediator who will facilitate a settlement discussion. Although it’s common for a family law attorney to play the role of mediator, divorce mediators can be non-attorneys. 

The mediator guides the separating couple to settle matters including property distribution, child custody, and alimony.

Typically, each party will speak privately with the mediator. The mediator serves as a bridge until the settlement is acceptable to both sides. All records and conversations can be kept confidential.

Mediation makes the most sense when dissolving the marriage will be rather straight-forward and both parties are on equal footing. In other words, they’re both not using an attorney and their financial positions are equitable.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law combines mediation with a traditional divorce that involves attorneys. Each party is represented by a family law attorney but there is no involvement by the court. 

While mediation can be court-ordered, collaborative divorce is always voluntary. 

To eliminate the possibility of either party going to court, each party signs a pledge to avoid litigation and act in good faith.


Arbitration is yet another option for handling a divorce outside of the courtroom.

Both parties present arguments to an arbitrator, an independent third-party who makes a decision in the way a judge would. The presentations are made during an arbitration hearing, which is much less formal than a court proceeding.

There are two types of arbitration:

  • Binding arbitration. Here, both parties are required to follow the decision of the arbiter. 
  • Non-binding arbitration. In this type of arbitration, the decision can be appealed in court.

Mediation versus Arbitration in Family Law Matters

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where custody or divorce circumstances are handled in a large and crowded courtroom, but this type of courtroom experience can be avoided through alternative dispute resolution methods in family law. The two most prevalent alternative dispute resolution methods in family law are arbitration and mediation. Both approaches can be effective under the right circumstances, but serve somewhat different functions.

Family law mediation is a process where two people work with one mediator to come to their own agreement about how to resolve their divorce, custody, or other family law issues. The mediator should be a trained family lawyer who is able to screen for domestic violence issues, is knowledgeable about the law, and can objectively broker an agreement for both sides. The mediator’s role is not that of a referee or a judge, but rather of a facilitator to help both sides come up with their own terms.

Alternatively, arbitration is a procedure in which a dispute is formally submitted, by the agreement of the parties, to a trained professional who makes a binding decision on those issues. While an arbitrator may try to mediate a resolution between the parties, their ultimate task is to fully and finally resolve the claims before him or her via either an agreement between the parties or a determination by the arbitrator. The arbitrator is, in many ways, empowered by the parties to step into the shoes of a judge and to decide what happens. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution process by a trained and experienced family law professional rather than going to court.

Montgomery County, PA Family Law Firm

Firm founder Inna Materese concentrates solely on complex family and divorce matters in Pennsylvania. She is widely regarded as the go-to family lawyer for the most complex family law matters. Her speaking engagement topics include Tax Implications in Divorce (2015), Prenuptial Agreements (2019), Drafting Marital Settlement Agreements (2020, 2022). Learn more about Inna Materese.

Our Montgomery County Family Law Firm accepts clients across the county, including: Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Oreland, Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, as well as the Main Line: Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, Narberth.

Pennsylvania Family Law

Our Montgomery County family law firm handles family law and divorce matters across the county including: Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Oreland, Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, as well as the Main Line areas of Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, and Narberth. Clients also accepted in Bucks County, Chester County, and Philadelphia. 

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