While both processes attempt to keep your divorce out of court, collaborative divorce and divorce mediation have some important differences to be aware of.
If you’re planning to attempt an alternative to traditional divorce, set up a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn if an alternative divorce process is the right choice for your situation.
1. Receive More Guidance With Collaborative Divorce
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In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires a collaboratively-trained lawyer to represent them in negotiations. Often these are in “four-way” meetings and are meant to provide a pathway to an amicable divorce.
In a mediated divorce, neither spouse needs a lawyer and can instead rely only on a neutral mediator (often a lawyer). This mediator will provide prompts, but will not advise you or your spouse on what might be best for you.
Lawyers are desirable for you as they can provide more advice, and assist you with making sure your rights are protected while still working together with your spouse and their lawyer.
2. Take Advantage Of A Team Of Experts in the Collaborative Process
Through collaborative divorce, you and your spouse bring in experts in specific areas to help identify the best course of action in any situation, such as:
a child specialist who can help you with a parenting plan that will work best for your kids;
a financial neutral who can help you with the division of assets and debts, as well as cash flow, including spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support;
a divorce coach to help with the emotional aspects of the divorce and to help you communicate as your best selves through the process .
Financial, tax, relationship and other experts are able to provide unbiased opinions on how best to move forward with your specific situation which both you and your spouse can then agree on.
When children are involved, it can be particularly helpful to bring in a child specialist as an expert in the field. They can look at the situation objectively and come up with an effective custody and parenting time arrangement which puts the well-being of the children first.
In mediation, a mediator may have a background in mental health or as a financial expert, or could even be an attorney, but their role as a mediator is to help you reach an agreement. Their skills in conflict resolution are used as a mediator, but they may not be using their specialized skills in the same way that a neutral in the collaborative process would.
3. Collaborative Divorce Is More Likely To Stay Out Of Court
With collaborative divorce, you’re more likely to stay out of court than using mediation. With lawyers involved right away – though not in an adversarial fashion – you and your spouse are more likely to find a resolution and be able to ground it in solid legal terms which are amenable to both, saving you the time and money of going to court.
The major difference with collaborative divorce as opposed to other processes is that both spouses and any professionals involved make a commitment not to go to court. If for some reason the process breaks down, which is very rare, the attorneys and other professionals withdraw and litigation counsel must be hired. This allows for creative problem solving because all parties are committed to settlement, instead of preparing for trial. In mediation, trial is always still on the horizon, which makes the conversations different and makes trial a greater possibility.