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Mediation vs. Collaborative Divorce

Feb. 9, 2023

You have decided to divorce and neither party is interested in a long, drawn-out court battle.  Is there a healthy and respectful way to divorce?  It turns out there is.  Both mediation and collaborative law provide a path to divorce that can help families avoid the knock-down, drag-out fight that we often associate with divorce and allow for a dignified future for the parties after family separation.   

Both collaborative and mediation share similar approaches.  They are voluntary, confidential processes that focus on the underlying needs and interest of the parties and avoid the win or lose mentality of litigation.  Neither process is confined to the laws or what the court might do. Instead, the parties can find solutions that work for their specific situation.  The mediation and collaborative divorce process puts a value on peace; on having the ability to sustain a working relationship with your former spouse or partner.  This working relationship could prove to be invaluable in the future, particularly if you have children.   

So, Which Path Is Right for You? 


In the mediation process, the parties work directly with a mediator to come to an understanding regarding the division of assets and debts, custody, support, or whatever issues you might face when contemplating family separation.  The mediator does not make decisions or side with one party or the other.  The mediator’s role instead is to guide, assist and oversee the process.  Attorneys are not necessary during the mediation process, but many people choose to engage with an attorney. The mediator cannot act as either parties’ attorney and cannot process the legal paperwork required to finalize the divorce.  The parties can do this themselves or one or both of the parties can hire an attorney to do so. 

Collaborative Law

The collaborative process also avoids the battle-driven court process and puts the outcome in the hands of the parties.  Unlike mediation, each party will necessarily be represented by an attorney who is specially trained in collaborative law.  The parties and their counsel work as a team.  This team may also agree to bring on a collaboratively-trained financial neutral and/or a mental health neutral.  And, at times, other experts are consulted as well.  Through the collaborative team, the parties hire one expert together rather than each party hiring an expert, saving time and money as compared to the litigation process.  Together the team will work through all of the issues that arise as it relates to the family separation process.  This process is most valuable in situations where there are complex financial or custody issues and/or where the parties could use extra emotional or logistical support to navigate the process.   

So which process is best for you and your family?  Reach out to a mediator and/or collaboratively-trained attorney to hear your options.