What are the differences between divorce mediation and collaborative divorce and which works better? While both divorce mediation and collaborative divorce are designed to promote resolution and avoid costly, stressful litigation, they have a few key differences.
In divorce mediation, both spouses come in together to meet with one mediator. The divorce mediator is a neutral trained professional — not necessarily a lawyer — who helps the couple create an agreement for their family, covering issues of parenting, child support, alimony and the division of assets and debts. Sometimes, the couple hires outside divorce lawyers to provide advice along the way. Usually, these attorneys provide only limited representation, keeping the legal fees low. The divorce mediation process usually involves 4—6 meetings, and saves both money and time.
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires his/her own attorney from the beginning. The attorneys and the parties sign an agreement that states that they will try to work things out without going to court. Then, the couple and their attorneys meet to try to reach an agreement. If the divorce negotiations break down and the couple cannot come to agreement, they must go to court. In these cases, they need to start again and hire new attorneys for the litigation process.
So which is better? It really depends on the needs of the family. Divorce mediation is a simpler, less expensive process that works best for couples who are interested in reaching an agreement, and able to express their positions. Collaborative divorce is more complicated because the spouses each have attorneys throughout the negotiations. This path may be a better option for spouses who believe that their views may not be heard unless they have a lawyer to represent them.