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The difference between collaborative divorce and mediation

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2020 | Collaboration & Mediation

Many couples in the greater Pittsburgh area will likely want to consider some alternative to traditional litigation if they are going through a divorce.

While it is sometimes the best option, many Pennsylvania couples may find traditional litigation to be both expensive and stressful.

Moreover, there is always some uncertainty with having a judge make decisions in a divorce case, and a person may wind up profoundly disappointed in a judge’s decision.

Finally, many experts in children opine that when parents who are divorcing are able to get along without legal wrangling, the children do a better job of coping with their parents’ split.

Two popular ways to resolve divorces

Two means of resolving common divorce issues outside of the court room are divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.

While the end goal of both processes is to help a couple come up with an agreed settlement, they differ in several respects. What option is best for a person depends on the unique facts and circumstances of their case.

Divorce mediation

Divorce mediation is a good option for those who want to maintain a cordial relationship with their ex and keep their divorce proceeding private.

Mediation will involve the couple meeting with a neutral third party with relatively little prior knowledge about the case. The mediator will often be a family law attorney or even a former judge. Particularly in child custody cases, a family therapist or mental health professional may also serve as the mediator.

Mediation may or may not involve a person’s attorney.  Sometimes, attorneys advise their clients throughout the process. In other cases, an attorney may play a more limited role.

Mediation is a confidential process. The goal of the mediator is to help the couple resolve any contested issues through negotiation and settle up their divorce outside of court. If the process succeeds, the parties may be able to finalize a divorce agreement. If it fails, they are free to go forward with litigation.

Collaborative divorce

As is the case with a traditional divorce, both sides in a collaborative divorce will hire their own attorneys to represent them.

However, they will also sign an agreement stating that if they should fail to reach a negotiated settlement, then they will each hire a different attorney in order to pursue litigation.

This arrangement gives each side some incentive to cooperate with the other side. After all, having effectively to start the process over with a new attorney if negotiations fail will require both sides to incur some additional time and expense.

Cooperation is the name of the game in a collaborative divorce. While the lawyers are there to give their clients proper legal advice and discuss options, the aim is for them to help bring the parties together to reach an agreement.

Oftentimes, couples in a collaborative divorce will also rely on neutral third-party experts, like child psychologists and financial advisors, to investigate the case and help the couple resolve their disputes.