Mediation, collaboration: negotiating your divorce out of court

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Mediation, collaboration: negotiating your divorce out of court

If you are like many couples, you and your spouse may want to try to resolve your divorce without the stress and financial burden of the litigation process. Mediation and collaboration are two alternatives to divorce court that offer a more constructive and potentially less costly path forward.

While both approaches involve working out the terms of your separation outside of the court system, each method involves a slightly different process.

What is a mediated divorce?

Divorce mediation usually involves you, your spouse and a neutral family law mediator. The mediator acts as a facilitator rather than a decision-maker, promoting effective communication, pinpointing areas of conflict and guiding you toward solutions that you can both agree to. Decisions that you make in confidential mediation sessions are non-binding until you present your agreement to the court for approval.

How is the collaborative process different?

Similar to divorce mediation, during collaboration both sides agree to negotiate in good faith and not to pursue litigation. However, you and your spouse may each hire your own legal counsel to advise you during the process. You, your lawyer, your future ex and his or her lawyer work as a collaborative team to resolve issues through compromise rather than conflict. As with mediation, you and your spouse maintain control of any decisions until you submit an agreement to the court.

If your divorce goes before the court, a judge may be the one making crucial decisions ranging from how to divide your property to how you will handle parenting schedules and child support. However, if you and your future ex can agree to work together, either collaborative or mediated divorce may help you to create a divorce agreement that truly works for your family’s specific circumstances.