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If you are considering a divorce, but your stomach is turning at the thought of going to court, there are other alternatives. Both collaborative divorce and mediation are alternative divorce approaches that can help divorcing couples stay out of court and out of conflict and resolve their divorce amicably.

Although these two divorce strategies are non-litigious, there are crucial distinctions between them. Here, we explore the differences between collaborative divorce and mediation, as well as the benefits of each.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

In a collaborative divorce, the couple does not need to file for divorce. However, both spouses agreed on all issues related to the dissolution of marriage – such as assets division, child support, custody, and alimony – before going to court.

Two parties participate in a collaborative divorce, each represented by an attorney, who concludes a so-called Collaborative Agreement. It is a legal contract that binds each party to the divorce to participate in the collaborative process. This agreement also limits the scope of each attorney’s representation. For example, lawyers should withdraw from the case if the collaborative process proves unsuccessful.

There are also other professionals who play a role in collaborative divorce. For example, may involve a Family Relations Specialist who guides discussions regarding the children or a Financial Specialist who can help with complex financial issues.

Divorcing couples seek collaborative divorces for several reasons, some of which we discuss here:

  • Collaborative divorce can help reduce the costs of divorce.
  • Parties are committed to cooperation, conflict-free and candid in negotiations. By accepting that marriage is coming to an end, and taking a proactive approach to dealing with difficult issues related to finances, child custody, and spousal support, couples can avoid potential arguments and disagreements.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties must agree on every aspect of the divorce. If that doesn’t happen, each spouse’s attorneys withdraw their representation and must start the divorce process all over again.

What is Mediation?

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution procedure where a third-party mediator guides a separating couple to clear up issues associated with assets distribution, child custody, alimony, and other divorce matters.

Divorce mediators can be non-attorneys, but it is not unusual for a family law attorney to play the role of mediator. At Your Family Matters, P.A., for example, our attorneys routinely mediate divorces. Mediation is a good choice for spouses who want to avoid legal action.

Do I want An Attorney for Collaborative Divorce or Mediation?

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse must be represented by a lawyer. During the divorce, there will be many meetings involving you, your spouse, and your attorneys, in addition to every other professional needed. In these sessions, spouses cooperate to work through issues like the distribution of assets and child custody. In mediation, by contrast, the process is facilitated through an independent, third-party mediator. During mediation, the mediator works with both parties to construct a mutually agreeable divorce agreement.

If you’re exploring collaborative divorce, you should first talk with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer will take a look at your goals, your assets, and your particular family dynamics to help you decide the best course of action.

Do you have questions about your divorce? Contact Your Family Matters today to schedule an initial consultation.