What’s the Difference Between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation?
Divorce doesn’t have to be a messy battle with winners and losers. When spouses are willing to compromise with each other with the aid of trained professionals, the odds are increased that they’ll come out of a divorce with financial and familial arrangements that are acceptable to both and that form a foundation for future relationships, including those involving children.
Two alternatives to traditional litigation are collaborative divorce and divorce mediation. Both methods have the same goal — allowing divorcing spouses to resolve issues such as property division, alimony and child custody and support in private, out-of-court discussions that may avert a trial. But they go about achieving this goal in different ways.
In mediation, the separating couple meets with a neutral third party, who is typically an experienced matrimonial lawyer with specialized skills. The mediator’s job is to listen to the wants, needs and concerns of each spouse and to relay them to the other objectively. As the dialogue continues, the mediator will make and refine proposals that can help bring the parties close on disputed issues. The spouse can each have their own lawyer present and may consult with their lawyers privately. One of the great advantages of mediation is that it occurs in private and no record of the proceeding is kept. If mediation is successful, a settlement agreement is forged that becomes part of the divorce judgment.
Collaborative divorce, on the other hand, is much more a negotiation. There is no neutral third party interceding between the spouses. Each spouse retains an attorney for a scope of representation limited to the collaborative proceeding. The spouses may sign a contract or other form of agreement to use their best efforts to settle the case. Outside professionals are retained as experts by each side to give opinions on such issues as property division and evaluation as well as child custody and support. As with mediation, negotiations occur in private and off the record. The end result, if the process succeeds, is a settlement agreement.
Mediation can be a less expensive solution than collaborative divorce, since it does not require paying expert witness fees, which can run very high. Another downside to collaborative divorce is that if it fails, the spouses cannot use the same attorneys in the litigation to follow. That said, both of these methods are likely to be faster and less expensive than going to trial.
At Solutions Divorce Mediation, we strive to help clients achieve divorce in ways that are as simple, fast and stress-free as possible. To speak with a qualified professional at our Melville, New York office, call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact us online. We handle mediation and uncontested divorce for clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.