Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a collection of methods for resolving disputes without litigation. In this series, we’ll take a look at the history of ADR, some different types of ADR, what its benefits are, and when it might not be the right choice.
History of Alternative Dispute Resolution
When we look at the history of alternative dispute resolution, it seems it has been around ever since there’s been something for it to be an alternative to. That is to say, it’s at least as old as litigation itself. Some concepts from alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, are potentially older than the idea of law itself.
However long our history with ADR may be, for a long time in the modern era it wasn’t very popular. There are examples of ADR being used in America stretching all the way back to colonial times. However, before the twentieth century they were scattered and often lacked legitimacy. That changed in the 1920s, with the passage of the Federal Arbitration Act by Congress and the passage of laws regulating and enfranchising mediation by numerous states.
ADR grew in popularity throughout the 20th century, and is now nearly ubiquitous. It’s used by millions, from divorcing couples to international corporations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Council requires that all agencies in the US government have an ADR program.
ADR’s growth in popularity shows no signs of stopping. Today, companies are developing software to facilitate alternative dispute resolution on the internet. As the popularity of ADR grows, we continue to find new conflicts to apply it.
Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Let’s look at some of the subsets of alternative dispute resolution, and how they apply to divorce.
In arbitration, a third party, known as an arbitrator, is appointed to oversee the dispute. Each side presents their case to the arbitrator, and the arbitrator makes a legally binding decision on how the dispute will be resolved.