Many couples today are obtaining divorces without the emotional toll often sustained when utilizing our adversarial legal system. A formal divorce action is characterized by both parties' attorneys striving to obtain the best result possible for their clients; maintaining a civil relationship with a former spouse after such an experience is often difficult. Because of this, many couples are now utilizing mediation and collaboration to obtain a more "friendly" divorce.
Mediation vs. Collaboration
Mediation involves both parties meeting with an independent mediator, who assists them in reaching agreement on such issues as child custody and visitation, division of marital assets and child support. The focus on reaching consensus, rather than succeeding in adversarial litigation, often allows the parties to continue a constructive relationship after the divorce. This is especially important when the parties must continue to interact with each other when sharing legal and physical child custody.
Collaboration is more complex than mediation, yet simpler than litigation. Both parties retain attorneys who hire experts and work together to craft a resolution that is beneficial to both parties. Types of experts used can include psychologists, financial advisers and divorce coaches.
Both Mediation and Collaboration are less costly and time-consuming than litigation. Divorce litigation can take years and cost more than 10 times as much.
Both types of "friendly" divorces require substantial cooperation between parties and a desire to reach a reasonable result. These types of divorces are not successful with hostile parties, who are usually best served by formal litigation. Even cooperative parties who utilize mediation should obtain the advice of counsel to ensure that their rights and interests are protected. Once an agreement is reached in either Mediation or Collaboration the parties must still appear in court to have their agreement approved by a judge. If you are considering a divorce and wondering about what option would be best for you, consult with an experienced divorce attorney in your area.