Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation: Similarities
Both methods seek an out-of-court, non-trial solution to getting divorced. At private meetings, rather than court hearings, negotiations are held to work through the issues of the divorce. The ultimate goal is to achieve a fair settlement that fits the needs and goals of each party and that each can abide by without the acrimony of a court fight.
• Timeline: Both procedures provide a framework which enables parties to achieve a divorce much faster than going through the court system and waiting for hearing dates.
• Privacy: Negotiations do not become public record.
• Level of adversity: Negotiated agreements rather than court battles bring down the adversarial component of getting divorced.
• Control of outcome: Parties retain more power over their future by devising agreements rather than turning all decisions over to the court.
• Cost: Mediation and collaborative divorce are generally less costly than a court trial.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation: Differences
• Mediator vs. Collaborative Team: In mediation, a neutral mediator meets with the parties and attempts to work through all the issues to a satisfactory conclusion. In collaborative divorce, both parties have lawyers and possibly additional specialists to work as a team to design the decree and other documents.
• Lawyer representation: Lawyers are not included in meditation sessions, but may advise their clients outside of the meetings. In the event that the mediation fails, they will continue to represent their clients through a traditional court divorce.
Collaborative lawyers attend all negotiation sessions and offer creative solutions toward agreements. However, if the negotiations break down, they will withdraw as the attorneys. The parties will have to hire different lawyers to handle a traditional divorce.
In sum, collaborative divorce takes a broader approach to divorce by adding specialists in children, finances, and emotional issues to the negotiating team. Mediation focuses more on resolving the legal issues in the most expedient fashion. Both methods have their merits.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation: Which Is Right for Me?
Mediation may be the better choice for you if you can answer “yes” to most of the following questions:
• Prefer to limit number of professionals involved in your case?
• Have you already resolved most or all of your issues?
• If children are involved, have you worked out a custody arrangement?
• Are you comfortable dealing with the property and financial issues without the assistance of a financial expert?
• Are you comfortable negotiating directly with your spouse without a lawyer by your side?
• Feel that you don’t need help with emotional clouding and stress reactions?
• Won’t benefit from added tools available to enhance communications skills so that negotiation input and output is productive?
• Do you need a lawyer only at the end to review the written agreement?
• Insufficient divorce assets to bear to pay the fees for all professional team members? Concerns that fees for a team will become too steep?
Collaborative or cooperative divorce may be preferable if you can answer “yes” to any of these questions:
• Is there a power imbalance in the relationship that leaves you feeling at a disadvantage during negotiations?
• Could you benefit from a divorce coach to help your communication skills or your spouse’s?
• Feel like you are in a fog emotionally and could benefit from a divorce coach to help reduce clouded thinking and use new skills to negotiation for yourself?
• Do you prefer to have an attorney by your side for advice and guidance during the negotiations?
• Do you want input from a financial professional on possible property and financial settlements?
• Are your finances and property holdings particularly complex?
• Do you want expert advice on a parenting plan?
• Do you want your child(ren) to have a voice in the process rather than being interviewed by a judge in a courtroom?
• Do you prefer to be supported by a team of experts throughout the process?
• See the benefit of being able to call on the team to troubleshoot future issues?
To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable lawyer, call Zonder Family Law. We accept cases in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. Lisa Zonder and her legal professionals offer a compassionate, common-sense approach to divorce and all family law matters.