There are two main ways to handle a divorce: you can either go to a mediator or you can choose a collaborative divorce. The main thing to know about these two different approaches is that there is no perfect decision. Every case is different and there is no one solution that fits them all. The right approach is determined by the circumstances of your case, which are unique and vary according to your specific situation. Of course, you should also take into consideration whether you have a good mediator or a good collaborative divorce attorney to help you during the process.
Here are some of the key features of divorce mediation:
* A neutral mediator will help you negotiate the terms of a divorce
* The mediator has no say or power to decide the case one way or another
* The approach is often considered informal and flexible
* There is no obligation to hire a lawyer, a mediator is enough
* It's very efficient and time-consuming
* It's inexpensive, compared to litigation
On the other hand, collaborative divorce is characterized by:
* Each spouse must be represented by a collaborative divorce attorney
* The parties must sign a “no court” agreement – the file must be withdrawn if the case goes to court
* The negotiation takes place in a four-person meeting
* Attorneys can use the services of other legal professionals
* The process is informal and flexible
* It's more efficient and less expensive than litigation
The Pros Of Collaborative Divorce
Do you need an attorney by your side?
This option is better for you if you need a legal professional by your side during divorce proceedings. For instance, if your case is particularly complex and you need advice on financial or legal matters, having a collaborative divorce attorney is ideal. In some situations, you may feel uncomfortable about handling the divorce without a legal professional to help you. In short, this type of divorce is good for people who want to feel represented during this difficult process.
There's a power imbalance in the relationship
The collaborative approach is ideal if there's an ample imbalance in the relationship. This avoids creating possible disadvantages in conversations about difficult subjects and you may feel protected in special situations. Having a good attorney by your side will give you more confidence when discussing important legal and financial matters with your spouse. You will be able to avoid stressful and disadvantageous situations.
The Cons Of The Collaborative Approach
The main disadvantage of this approach is that if it doesn't work, the collaborative divorce attorney must withdraw from the entire process. The entire procedure has to be re-initiated, with a new lawyer or other legal experts. This extends deadlines, increases costs and makes everyone more uncomfortable. Also, some lawyers point out to another disadvantage: this approach tends to blur the role of the lawyer, who will only tend to look for compromises and alternative solutions to please everyone.
Another possible disadvantage can be the solutions' lack of creativity. When more lawyers are involved in your case, the solutions are less unorthodox. The proceedings are informal but more strict and there are more protocols involved than in mediation.
Pros Of Mediation Services For Divorce
Flexibility and control over the entire process
Mediation is often more flexible than collaboration. This is because you will only need three persons to start the entire process: you, your spouse and a mediator. There are no additional experts, procedures or protocols. As soon as you have these three people in a room, you are good to go. Also, because there are no set protocols, your input can come more naturally and the discussion is more informal and productive. There are no additional opinions or legal matters to stop or slow down the discussion. Mediation is more flexible because it promotes natural negotiation and discussion.
It's more efficient and less expensive
In many cases, mediation can be less expensive and more efficient than collaboration. However, this is only true if the parties are non-conflictual and if there is room for negotiation. If the parties are aggressive or uncommunicative, mediation can be extended for longer periods, making it quite expensive. Mediation is also cheaper because it involves only one legal professional – a single mediator. On the other hand, collaboration requires at least two lawyers, one for each party.
Some states have confidentiality laws that protect both parties and their statements during the mediation process. There are no similar laws that protect the collaboration process, so the issue is open for debate. Obviously, there is the client-lawyer confidentiality clause, which is active, but the four-way meetings are special situations, where this clause is not enough. Ideally, you should sign a confidentiality agreement with your spouse in order to avoid further confidentiality issues. Simply put, if confidentiality is an issue for you, mediation might be the best approach in your case.
The Cons Of Mediation In Divorce
Mediation has multiple limitations. For starters, it won't work efficiently if the parties don't get along at all. Mediation requires a lot of natural negotiation and communication, so if that isn't possible, the results will be unsatisfactory. Also, if you aren't able to reach a mutual agreement, the whole process must be started all over again. The money and the time you spent on the mediation is, obviously, lost, and you will need to start the process again. In some cases when mediation fails, couples end up going to litigation, which is obviously a financial and legal disaster for both spouses. This happens in extreme cases, where spouses become aggressive or unreasonable during mediation. This might happen if the couple simply doesn't see a way out, and this was further exacerbated during a failed mediation process. Some couples may choose the collaborative approach after the mediation process failed. This is much better than going directly to all-out litigation.
As stated previously, your current situation will dictate which service you decide to choose. Therefore, it’s important to know what you need and explain the intricacies to your attorney.