What is the Difference between Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are two alternatives to consider rather than the more traditional litigated divorce.

More and more couples are choosing alternative methods to reach a divorce settlement rather than going to court. These alternative options can result in reaching a settlement in less time and for less cost.

How do you know whether divorce mediation or collaborative divorce is the right process for you? The answer is to understand the differences and similarities between these two options.

In both collaborative divorce and divorce mediation, the parties agree to reach a settlement without going to court.  They agree to an open, free and voluntary exchange of information. This means that both parties openly discuss their concerns, needs and objectives, and share complete financial data. Each party is encouraged to communicate what is important to them, rather than arguing for a specific position or solution.

While divorce mediation and collaborative divorce are similar, there are differences. In mediation, there is typically one neutral third party who works with the couple to facilitate an agreement. The mediator cannot advocate for either side, nor can they provide legal advice. Both parties are encouraged to retain their own attorney to advocate for his or her client and provide legal advice.

In collaborative divorce, each party is represented by a team of professionals. Each party retains their own attorney who can provide legal advice. One neutral divorce financial specialist and a divorce coach, for each party, are also included on the team of professionals. The attorneys on a collaborative team, as well as the other professionals must pledge not to litigate and to keep the best interest of both parties in mind. Further, if the negotiations break down and the couple decides to go to court, each attorney and all other professionals on the team must withdraw from the case.

In both divorce mediation and collaborative divorce it is beneficial to include a neutral divorce financial specialist in the process.  Mediators and attorneys are not typically trained to address the complex tax and financial issues that arise during divorce.

There are advantages and disadvantages with both collaborative divorce and mediated divorce.  It is best to learn as much you can about both of these options. Once you decide on the process that is best for you, the next step is to identify qualified professionals who are experienced in the process you have selected.

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