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The use of alternative methods for resolving family conflict has increased significantly in the past few years, but many attor­neys are still wary. In an effort to discover some of the sources of this hesitation as well as identify support for "alternative" processes, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers sur­veyed its members concerning the use of dispute resolution methods. The purpose of this study was to ascertain attorneys' perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of the two most commonly used alternative dispute resolution mechanisms: me­diation and arbitration. Whether clients will continue to use these methods depends in great part on the willingness (and per­haps the perceived obligation) of their advisors to suggest them and to agree to participate with clients in these processes. Thus, attorneys' perceptions of the appropriateness of these dispute resolution methods will greatly influence their future utility. The study that is the center of this report was mailed to 1500 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in the Fall of 1996. One hundred twenty three surveys were re­turned to the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and their results were compiled at that of­fice. The survey consisted of both multiple choice and open­ ended questions. Because of the great variation in mediation programs throughout the country, universal conclusions are difficult to draw. Rather, this article attempts first to describe some of the similiarities and differences among mediation programs or serv­ices. It then identifies what attorneys commonly perceive as the advantages and disadvantages of mediation regardless of pro­gram differences. Ultimately, however, this article attempts to go beyond mere reporting to examine some of the factors that will help attorneys determine whether a particular dispute reso­lution mechanism is appropriate for a given case and how per­ceived disadvantages can be minimized. The question is not whether settlement is good or bad, but under what circumstances non-traditional processes should be used for the resolution of particular kinds of family conflict.

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Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers