Comparing Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

Basics of Collaborative Law

In a collaborative divorce, the parties each retain an attorney and work together to create an agreement that meets the family’s needs. There is no third-party mediator or arbitrator involved. In a collaborative divorce setting, you’ll have your attorney with you. Using a collaborative approach, parties can obtain a divorce without going to trial. 

The process starts with an agreement to collaborate in good faith. Parties agree that if the collaborative process is abandoned by one (or both) of the spouses, they each must retain new attorneys in order to move forward with traditional litigation.

Depending on the issues in your case, the collaborative law process often incorporates other professionals. For example, if you and your spouse own a business together, you may want to bring in a business valuation specialist. It may be beneficial to bring in child specialists if you are working through custody and access issues. Financial advisors are frequently brought into the collaborative divorce process as well. Both your lawyer and these other professionals can provide feedback and help you make informed decisions in real time during the collaborative session(s). 

Basics of Divorce Mediation

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (or “ADR”) method that allows parties to obtain a divorce without traditional litigation. The mediation process is conducted by a neutral third party, called a mediator. Normally, attorneys and any outside professionals are not part of the mediation sessions. 

Keep in mind that the mediator cannot give legal advice and does not actually decide the issues. The mediator’s goal is to help the parties develop an agreement on any issues in dispute. In divorce cases, this often means division of property and assets, custody, and creating a parenting plan. Mediators help the parties communicate and focus on the issues in their case. Mediation is a common way of working through issues in a divorce, but there are many types of cases that can potentially use mediation, including guardianships, probate and estate issues, and IEP/school disputes. For many people, mediation can be a viable alternative to litigation. 

Benefits of the Two Approaches

There are several potential benefits of using collaborative law and mediation. Parties can resolve their family law case without going to trial, and both methods are often quicker and less expensive than litigation. These methods also allow parties to have more control over the process and eventual outcome. After all, you and your spouse are in the best position to understand your family’s needs and ensure your settlement reflects them, rather than leave important decisions up to a judge.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Bethany G. Shechtel, Esq. is trained and certified in mediation and collaborative law, and she has been by her clients’ side, guiding them through the divorce process for years. To learn more about your options, contact BGS Law, LLC today.