Written by Monica Donaldson Stewart

Collaborative vs. mediation, the differences are important

Getting divorced can be difficult, stressful and contentious. But if you are committed to working toward an agreement, you have options.

Many people know about mediation as a way to avoid a litigated divorce, but it’s not the only choice. Collaborative divorce is another option that can make the process a little (or a lot) less stressful.

But the two approaches to divorce can seem confusing. They have aspects in common but work very differently. Before you make your choice, take the time to understand how each one works.

The Push for an Agreement

Both collaborative divorce and mediation work to help you agree on the details of your divorce. You work through areas of disagreement with the other side until you can arrive at a settlement. Both processes take time and work, but both give you a chance to avoid litigation.

In mediation, both sides generally start by pushing for the most they can get and each side negotiates for what they think is their individual best deal. Mediation is often successful, but if you don’t get to the right place, you may go on to fight in court. Mediation can help you reach an agreement or it can be a step along the way.

Collaborative divorce is different. A key factor in looking at collaborative vs. mediation is what you invest in the process. The collaborative approach focuses on finding a fair result for both you and your spouse. It does not serve as one step in a more extensive process. It IS the process.

Your Attorney

In mediation, your attorney represents you for the duration of the matter. In other words, if mediation fails to end with a settlement, the attorney stays with you as the case proceeds toward court. Sometimes, the attorney benefits when a case goes to litigation instead of settling in mediation.

Collaborative divorce requires your attorney to start and end with that process. If you cannot reach an agreement, your collaborative attorney cannot represent you in court. You would have to start the process over with a new attorney.

Understand Your Goals

Ultimately, the collaborative vs. mediation choice depends a lot on what you want. Mediation sets you up to push for the most you can get from the divorce. While you may want to reach an agreement, it often focuses more on getting your spouse to agree with your position.

Collaborative divorce focuses on instead for getting a positive outcome for both spouses. Both options help you to identify what you need most. But the collaborative approach serves to meet your needs while addressing the other’s spouse’s needs too.

Neither path is easy; both mean facing fears and disagreements. If your goal is to get to a place that is right for both of you, though, collaborative divorce can feel less like a zero-sum battle of wills.

To better understand the differences in collaborative vs. mediation, contact the professionals with BestLegalChoices.com. They will walk you through the process and help you decide the best approach for you.