When people think about divorce, they often imagine that the process takes place in a courtroom and in front of a judge who will make rulings on divorce-related matters like child custody and spousal support. However, in reality, people typically resolve these issues outside of court through mediation or collaborative divorce.

Mediation and collaborative divorce are two positive alternatives to litigation. Below, we examine these options in more detail.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a cooperative process where parties work together with a neutral facilitator to resolve legal issues. Typically, parties can expect to:

  • Meet in a neutral location, like a conference room
  • Communicate with the help of a mediator, who is there to help people work together, not to make decisions
  • Talk through issues together to settle disputes
  • Attend together as many sessions as necessary
  • Resolve as many issues as possible

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is also a cooperative process that allows parties to negotiate their settlement agreements. Typically, parties in a collaborative divorce can expect to:

  • Hire separate lawyers specifically trained in collaborative law
  • Sign contracts stating that should the case go to court, parties will acquire new legal representation
  • Work with outside professionals like custody specialists and financial advisors
  • Reach agreements through their lawyers who work together to secure mutually acceptable outcomes for both clients

As you can see, there are distinct differences in these approaches, but they both allow parties to reach agreements outside of court. Generally speaking, avoiding litigation will save people time, money and energy, and it allows divorcing parties to maintain more control over the outcomes and leads to a better understanding of all agreement.

Both processes focus on the interests, objectives and goals of the parties.

Divorce is difficult, but finding a collaborative, efficient ways to resolve differences can make the process a little easier and the outcome more amenable.