Is Collaborative Divorce the Same as Mediation?

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Collaborative divorce and mediation are alternative dispute resolution methods used in divorce, but they are distinct processes with some key differences. A collaborative divorce is a process in which divorcing couples work together with their respective attorneys to reach a mutually acceptable settlement outside of court. The collaborative divorce process emphasizes cooperation, open communication, and problem-solving to avoid the need for litigation.
In the collaborative divorce process, couples and their attorneys agree to work together to resolve all the divorce issues, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division questions. Here’s an overview of both collaborative divorce and mediation:
  • In mediation, a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates communication between the divorcing spouses.
  • The mediator helps the couple identify and discuss issues, explore potential solutions, and reach agreements on property division, child custody, support, and other relevant matters.
  • The mediator’s role is to guide the conversation and facilitate negotiations, but they do not provide legal advice or make decisions for the couple.
  • The agreements reached in mediation are typically memorialized in a written document and submitted to the court for approval.
Collaborative Divorce:
  • In collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by an attorney trained in collaborative law. The attorneys work together with the couple to reach an out-of-court settlement.
  • The collaborative process involves a series of joint meetings where the spouses, their attorneys, and possibly other professionals (such as financial experts or mental health professionals) collaborate to address the issues in the divorce.
  • The emphasis is on open communication, transparency, and a commitment to finding mutually acceptable solutions without resorting to litigation.
  • If the collaborative process breaks down and the case goes to court, the collaborative attorneys are disqualified from representing the spouses in litigation. This is meant to encourage all parties to stay committed to resolving issues collaboratively.
While both collaborative divorce and mediation offer alternatives to traditional litigation, the choice between them depends on the specific needs and preferences of the divorcing couple. Some couples may find that one method is better suited to their circumstances than the other. Both mediation and collaborative divorces are less expensive, less time-consuming, and more efficient than traditional litigation in court. Divorce does not have to be accomplished by the classic adversarial process!  Both mediation and the collaborative divorce method can help people craft effective, cooperative divorce agreements that are better for all parties involved.  Not only do these processes keep the decision-making power in the hands of the divorcing couple rather than ceding it to a judge, but they are also cost-saving, time-saving, and less stressful, in addition to other advantages.
I have practiced family law for over 40 years and have seen the good that comes from alternative, peaceful divorce processes like collaborative divorce. Your divorce does not need to be a fight. If you are in the Kansas City Metro Area and believe collaborative divorce is the best solution for you and your spouse, contact me today to schedule a consultation, or feel free to call me at (816) 533-5152 with any questions you have regarding your divorce and how I can best guide you through the process.