This family law blog has included posts about the benefits divorce mediation could have for couples dissolving their marriage. However, another form of cooperative negotiation can also bring about a supportive end to a marriage. Collaborative law, and its applicability to collaborative divorce, is an alternative method of litigation to reaching the legal end of a marriage.
Both mediation and collaborative law hold as hallmarks the compliant nature of negotiations between the parties. They attempt to take the adversarial nature of divorce out of the equation by letting couples talk out issues to establish their custody, support and property division decisions. Though they share many commonalities, there are differences between the mediation and collaborative law divorce processes.
For example, in mediation the parties do not always choose to have their own legal representatives. While a mediator may be an attorney, that individual does not advocate for either one of the partners to the divorcing couple. In a collaborative divorce, the parties usually do have their own lawyers.
Additionally, mediation focuses on getting couples to the ends of their marriages and may not require the full exchange of information between the parties that is achieved through discovery in a litigated divorce. Collaborative divorce has a more formal information gathering process, and with their attorneys, divorcing couples can ask each other for more data in that legal environment than in a mediated setting.
There are other factors that make the mediated divorce and collaborative law divorce routes different, but at their cores, they are both committed to keeping the divorce process respectful and concerted. Couples who are planning to divorce and are interested in possibly pursuing collaborative or mediated methods may decide to research further the commonalities and differences that exist between the two processes.