This article is not intended to be construed as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, offering insights and awareness into the collaborative divorce versus mediation. Determining custody and proving and dividing debts and assets is difficult. Speaking with an experienced attorney is an advisable way to make sure your rights are safeguarded.
Which is Better: collaborative divorce or mediation?
Neither collaborative divorce nor mediation voluntary dispute resolution is better than other options in every divorce situation. Though it’s comforting to have an attorney represent you in a collaborative divorce, you’ll need another attorney, if it fails. The downside to switching attorneys is that bringing a new attorney up to speed can get expensive. Some attorneys still prefer collaborative divorce because it is a non-adversarial process. The law is only a guide so both spouses are free to decide what works best for them. While mediation has fewer costs, some spouses feel more vulnerable without an attorney to represent them in discussions. For spouses who need less structure, mediation offers the benefit of higher flexibility than collaborative divorce.
Key features of Collaborative Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, spouses are represented by collaborative attorneys. Spouses and attorneys sign a no-court agreement, prior to opening discussions. If the collaborative effort does not work out and the case goes to court, the collaborative attorneys must withdraw. This give the attorneys every incentive to work with each other to resolve the differences, but it adds costs if it fails. The discussions are conducted with both spouses and both attorneys present in a flexible, informal setting. Collaborative divorces are more efficient and less costly than litigation divorces.
In a divorce, spouses may want the guidance of their own attorney by their side to consult with. This is especially true when the divorce involves complicated legal or financial issues that neither feels competent to negotiate alone. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse or partner has their own attorney to consult in every step of the process. Yet the process is still informal, compared to a litigation divorce.
The structure of a collaborative divorce can help insulate a spouse who feels at a disadvantage in difficult discussions. Having the two attorneys present throughout the discussions helps to balance the negotiations. With the informality and savings of the collaborative divorce, many couples are choosing it over litigation. But is collaborative divorce better than mediation?
Key Features of a Family Law Mediation
In mediation, a neutral person with no power to decide the case helps both sides negotiate a divorce agreement. The mediation setting is flexible and informal. It is also more efficient and costs less than litigation or collaborative divorce. A big difference between mediation and collaborative divorce is the lack of attorney representation for either spouse or partner. The mediator is there to facilitate the discussion between separating spouses and keep the negotiations on track.
When the issues are fairly straight forward and the spouses are less confrontational, mediation can be a good divorce method. Since it’s easier to set meetings with fewer people, not having attorneys present is easier to schedule or reschedule. Mediation is cost effective, informal and flexible. If your situation doesn’t require attorney participation, mediation could be a good option for you.
Learn More About Mediation and Collaborative Divorce for You
Steve Hittelman is a specially trained mediator, and a top rated family law attorney in Newport Beach, CA. Attorney Hittelman is a certified family law specialist, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, 2002. As an experienced, skilled mediator he helps couples work through all matters of family law.
Hittelman Family Law Group is also well versed in collaborative divorces, having represented parties in many of them. If a non-adversarial approach is a possibility, call us to learn more about whether collaborative divorce or mediation would be right for you.
When parties have complex issues that require the involvement of experts and other resources, the option of undertaking a Collaborative Divorce should be considered. Each party gets a “Team,” including their HFLG attorney, a coach, an accountant, and (when children are involved) a counselor to guide them to the best result possible.