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Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

Differences between collaborative divorce and mediation.

In both the collaborative model and mediation, your meetings will be frequent, private, and outside of the courthouse. One difference between collaborative and mediation is who attends your meetings.

Adversarial litigation is effective in some areas of the law. In family law cases, zealous advocacy and the strategies used in adversarial litigation can cause unexpected consequences, particularly when there are children involved. After the court battle has ended, parents have to continue raising children together and coordinating in their daily lives.

Choosing collaborative divorce or mediation – two confidential, private non-adversarial ways to get divorced or to solve your family law issue – can help manage and preserve the family dynamics, allow you to retain control over the decisions affecting your family, be creative in your problem solving, and resolve custody or financial issues through private meetings.

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a process through which spouses and their respective attorneys commit themselves to settle their claims and disputes without court intervention or resorting to adversarial techniques. Through the collaborative process, the spouses work with their attorneys and possibly other neutral professionals, including an accountant, financial planner, or family counselor, to identify issues, communicate the spouses’ interests, set goals, gather and interpret information, develop options, understand legal requirements and impact of the spouses’ decisions, and assist the spouses in reaching a resolution which is acceptable to both spouses.

While some lawyers may refer to themselves as being collaborative or cooperative in style, genuine collaborative lawyering requires a commitment to the “no court” aspect of the process.

The collaborative divorce model incentivizes both spouses and their lawyers to use their best efforts to reach an agreement. The process also encourages both spouses and their attorneys to conduct themselves in the highest level of ethical behavior.

If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement, the existing collaborative attorneys would be disqualified, and the spouses would be free to obtain litigation counsel.

Differences between collaborative divorce and mediation.
In both the collaborative model and mediation, your meetings will be frequent, private, and outside of the courthouse. One difference between collaborative and mediation is who attends your meetings.

Divorce Mediation

In mediation, there is a neutral third-party mediator – ordinarily an attorney – who helps to educate and facilitate discussions between two spouses or parents in an effort to reach agreements that are acceptable to both of them. Ordinarily, the meetings will include the mediator and two individuals. If a party has individual consulting or review counsel, the consulting counsel would be available to speak to a party between mediation sessions but would not attend. Consulting or review counsel is available to answer individualized questions based upon his or her client’s needs, goals, and interests and to review the final negotiated agreement.

Collaborative Divorce Model

In the collaborative model, each spouse or parent has his or her individual collaborative lawyer present throughout the entire process, including during the meetings. The collaborative attorney’s commitment and ethical duty is first to the client. The skilled collaborative attorney also knows that the best way to meet the client’s interest is through creative problem solving that satisfies both spouse’s or parents’ goals and can preserve the path forward for the family as a whole.

How it Works.

If you are interested in the collaborative divorce process, you and your spouse would first each choose individual collaboratively trained lawyers to represent your needs and interests in the process.

If you are interested in mediation, you and your spouse would identify a neutral mediator together or consult counsel individually who could help provide potential mediator options for you to begin the process.

If you are unsure whether a collaborative divorce or mediation is suitable for your circumstances or if you have questions about either non-adversarial process option, contact one of the experienced collaborative and mediation attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns & Britt to answer your questions.