Most divorces are settled out of court, which makes sense when you consider the stress and expense of a typical courtroom battle. However, when spouses cannot agree within their marriage, they need a significant amount of assistance to come to agreement when negotiating the terms of their divorce. Several alternative dispute resolution methods can help guide couples during a difficult time. Perhaps the two most common methods are mediation and collaborative divorce. You need to understand how each method works to determine which one makes the most sense for your unique situation.
Most people understand the concept of mediation — negotiations facilitated by a neutral third party. As explained by New York magazine, collaborative divorce is a more structured approach that requires participants to follow very specific rules during the negotiation process. You need to consider the following when choosing between these two forms of negotiated divorce:
- Collaborative divorce requires the use of specially trained lawyers, while any reputable divorce attorney or therapist with mediation experience can potentially assist with mediated divorces.
- Collaborative lawyers are in the room with their clients when negotiating, while attorneys are traditionally not in the room during the mediation process.
- Collaborative lawyers must resign in the event the couple decides to litigate. Lawyers representing the parties of a mediated divorce can stay with their clients’ cases even if the divorce eventually ends up in court.
- Collaborative divorce enlists the assistance of appropriate professionals, such as child psychologists, divorce coaches or financial specialists, to guide couples through their issues. A mediated divorce can involve the two parties of divorce and the mediator, although many spouses also rely on their own legal counsel for advice and guidance.
- Collaborative divorce can be costlier than mediated divorce, largely because couples must pay one or more professionals to assist with the process.
Either type of divorce allows couples greater control over the terms of their divorce, and they both typically cost significantly less than a traditional courtroom divorce. While the structure of collaborative divorce requires a significant degree of commitment on the part of both parties, it can potentially result in a settlement that most precisely fits the needs of the entire family. An experienced divorce attorney can help you choose the option most appropriate for you.