The traditional method to resolve legal disputes in the area of matrimonial, domestic relations, or family law matters is contested litigation. While sometimes necessary, this process is time consuming and expensive. Two formal alternatives or companions to this process are frequently used in South Carolina. These alternatives are arbitration and mediation.
Arbitration is a voluntary process in which the parties agree to submit part or all of their dispute to a decision maker known as an arbitrator. The parties and the arbitrator control the issues submitted, the manner in which the arbitration will be conducted, and declare whether the decision will be binding and final, or non-binding. Normally the arbitration process is less formal and more expeditious than a hearing or trial in a courtroom.
Mediation is a process required in many counties in South Carolina, and optional in others, which is a formal effort to aid the parties to find a settlement of their dispute. A third, neutral party, called a Mediator, conducts one or more conferences to identify the issues and positions of the parties and to aid the parties in discovering the middle ground or viable settlement solutions. The Mediator does not make any decision for the parties. The entire mediation process is held confidentially, and no part of the process or anything discussed during it can be used by or against any party if the efforts are unsuccessful and a trial is held. While anyone agreeable to the parties may serve as a mediator, many lawyers have completed extensive training for this purpose.
Mr. McLaren has been certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as both a mediator and arbitrator. He has also been certified as a mediator by the South Carolina Bar and Dispute Resolution Services. Mr. McLaren also serves as counsel to parties involved in mediation and arbitration.