When considering how to go about getting divorced, clients often ask us to describe the benefits of a Collaborative Divorce versus mediation. Both are good alternatives to litigation and both can be excellent options for clients who do not want to wage battle in the courtroom, or spend their marital assets scorching the earth. Mediation is a good option when parties feel they are on equal footing in terms of power balance, knowledge of their joint and separate assets, and general knowledge of the law governing divorces. Because of this comfort level, standard mediation involves parties working directly with a mediator, rather than having lawyers present.
In contrast, one of the benefits of a Collaborative Divorce is that it offers a system wherein both parties have lawyers to advocate on their behalf, while still retaining the cooperative negotiation style found in mediation. While clients are expected to participate and speak for oneself, the lawyer can be supportive and help them share their concerns. This is particularly important when the circumstances noted above are not present in a marriage. For example, if one partner has handled all of the finances throughout the marriage, then it may be helpful to have an advocate to explain the pros/cons of dividing those assets. The team can also bring in a financial neutral to explain possible options that provide the most benefit for both parties. In addition, if one partner feels unable to speak up on his/her own behalf due to a power imbalance in the marriage, the Collaborative team can help that person find his/her voice or express concerns on his/her behalf. Sometimes this means bringing in a mental health professional to work with the parties on communication, both between the parents in the negotiation process and also to assist in co-parenting. Another benefit of a Collaborative Divorce is that the lawyers often work together to educate clients jointly on the law. Thus, both clients are hearing the same information about their rights and responsibilities, which lessens confusion.
We are happy to discuss the benefits of a Collaborative Divorce during our initial consultations. You can also learn more about the Collaborative Divorce process through our website.