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TMZ has reported that Robin Thicke and Paula Patton have settled their divorce case. TMZ has further reported that the parties have reached a settlement regarding the division of property, spousal support and child support, as well as a custody arrangement for their four year old son. The terms of the parties' settlement, however, remain private.

The settlement reached between Robin Thicke and Paula Patton presents us with an opportunity to discuss the differences between reaching a settlement through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, and resolving your matrimonial matter through litigation. Negotiation, Mediation and Arbitration, are often referred to as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. These alternatives to litigating a matter through the court have multiple advantages.

These alternatives to litigation offer parties a more cost-effective and time efficient means of resolving their matter. Further, in sharp contrast to court where a neutral third party, i.e. a judge, decides the end result, ADR presents the parties with an opportunity to craft the final resolution of their matter. However, these alternatives to the court require a willingness of the parties to cooperate with one another and come to a compromise on the legal issues that arose from the breakdown of their relationship. Some legal scholars also suggest that negotiation, mediation and arbitration, provide parties with a greater opportunity for personal closure than litigation.

Lastly, as demonstrated by the separation of Robin Thicke and Paula Patton, the negotiation of a Separation Agreement outside of the court system remains private. In sharp contrast, court proceedings in Ontario are open to the general public.