Key differences between mediation and collaborative divorce


5806464_SMost parties if they were asked about how they would like their divorce to conclude would opt for an out-of-court settlement versus through a contested hearing or trial.  Parties cite the cost of a contested trial.  People often cite the emotional havoc caused by an emotional trial.  This leads lots of folks to inquire about mediation.

Mediation sounds less emotionally and financially taxing.  Parties reaching a settlement out of court might also be in a better position to be able to move on with their life co-parenting with their ex or soon-to-be-ex.  The idea of a collaborative divorce also sounds appealing to many parties as well.  The term “collaborative” sounds similar to mediation to most.  And the term itself denotes parties working together in an amicable and productive manner.

Of course, mediation and collaborative divorce are not the same processes.  It is important for parties to understand the differences between these two processes if they are going to choose between them.

In divorce and family law mediation, parties meet with a mediator (typically, without an attorney) to try and resolve their dispute.  In most cases, a full resolution cannot be reached in one session, but instead would require multiple sessions.  The mediator’s job is simply to facilitate a discussion between the parties so that they can reach a creative resolution.  It is not the job of the mediator to impose their will, force the parties to meet in the middle or dispense legal advice.

In fact, if an agreement is reached in mediation, one or both of the parties will still need to hire an attorney to file the divorce, ensure that the proper paperwork is completed and to procure the signature of the judge either through a non-contested hearing or by affidavit.  The reality is that in many mediated cases there ends up being three attorneys involved: the mediator, an attorney for husband and an attorney for wife.

In collaborative divorce and family law, the parties meet with their attorneys present with them.  In addition, to the parties and their attorneys, the parties can employ collaborative professionals to assist, like a divorce coach, financial neutral or child custody professional.  In some cases, the parties might even enlist two divorce coaches: one for husband and for wife.  All of these parties can help the collaborative process to ensure that a resolution can be reached.  Typically, for a settlement to be reached, the process will require multiple sessions.

A divorce coach assists each spouse manage the emotional strain of changing relationships while focusing on goals for the present and future.  A financial neutral helps the parties identify options and alternatives by reviewing the financial aspects of the case.  A child custody professional helps the parties create custody schedules to fit the specific needs of the family.

Further, unlike mediation, if the parties are able to reach a resolution in the collaborative process, the attorneys for husband and wife can file the divorce and complete the process in court.  This is distinctively different from mediation in most instances where the attorney who completes the process is not part of the mediation sessions.

If you are going through a divorce in Missouri or Illinois, Stange Law Firm, PC and their experienced divorce and family law attorneys can help talk about your options. Call 314-963-4700 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

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