Attorney Katie Harrell: “Why Mediation/Arbitration is Better than Litigation in Family Matters”

Over the past 15 years, “a relatively new method of resolving family law cases began to gain popularity in the Dane County area. Attorneys began engaging in mediation/arbitration (med/arb) to finalize divorces, rather than taking cases to trial. The movement in Dane County took off at that time, in part, because Act 10 prompted several circuit court judges to retire … Following the departure of many experienced judges and the resulting influx of new faces on the bench, Dane County family law attorneys sought an alternative way to resolve their cases short of trial. They began to explore the use of med-arb” (Wisconsin Journal of Family Law, Vol. 41, Iss. 1, Jan. 2024).

This article discusses the definition, process, difference between, and benefits of mediation and arbitration in family law matters, which can escalate from an already uncomfortable situation to one that is even more uncomfortable when these types of cases enter the courtroom. Keeping in mind the growing acceptance of mediation/arbitration for couples and families as opposed to litigation, Attorney Harrell offers several significant advantages that should be thoroughly considered before contacting an attorney for divorce and family law representation—freedom of choice, flexibility, privacy, and efficiency are among these advantages.

Attorney Katie Harrell began private practice in 2008, specializing in family law from the start. She is an expert in collaborative divorce law, a unique, reasonable approach to handling some family law matters based on a commitment to avoid litigation, provide open and honest communication, and engage in shared problem-solving. Her practice includes divorce litigation (when mediation/arbitration is not possible), cooperative divorce, legal separation, child custody and placement, paternity, child support, third party visitation, and the drafting of prenuptial or marital property agreements. Katie is also frequently appointed to serve as a guardian ad litem in family law matters in Dane County, and she often acts as a parent coordinator in post-judgment cases.

If you are considering mediation for a divorce or family-related matter, please call us at (608) 259-2610 or (414) 982-2855. Learn more about Stafford Rosenbaum’s family law mediation practice and services here.

Stafford Rosenbaum LLP is a full-service law firm with two convenient office locations in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 145 years of dedication to businesses, governments, nonprofits, and individuals has proven that effective client communication continues to be the heart of our practice.


“Why Mediation/Arbitration is Better than Litigation in Family Matters” by Attorney Katherine C. Harrell was published in the Wisconsin Journal of Family Law, Volume 41, Issue 1 (January 2024).

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