What are the Big Differences Between Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

Here in Connecticut, the law provides several options for divorcing couples who wish to avoid the high cost and stress of litigation. Two of the most popular alternatives—mediation and collaborative divorce—can work very well when both spouses come to the table with a cooperative spirit. The American Bar Association reports that 86 percent of collaborative divorce cases are successful. For mediated cases, the success rate is nearly 90 percent, according to Divorce Statistics.

Collaborative divorce and mediation serve the same goal: to create a win-win agreement outside the courts. But each approaches the goal a bit differently. What are some key differences?

Lawyer Involvement

In mediation, legal representation is encouraged, but effectively optional. A professional mediator oversees and guides the negotiations between you and your spouse while you iron out an agreement to be approved by the courts. An attorney can be involved as an advisor along the way or to review the agreement you and your spouse decide on (which we recommend, particularly to look over the agreement before you finalize your divorce), but you and your spouse can take responsibility for the details, with the help of the mediator.

In collaborative divorce, both spouses hire legal representation, and the lawyers take an active role in the negotiations. However, the attorneys take a far less combative stance than in litigation, and instead the lawyers function more like a team rather than opposing sides. They share the goal of helping the spouses reach agreements. In fact, all parties must sign an agreement not to litigate, so if your collaboration fails, you’ll need to hire a different attorney.

Guidance through the Process

In a mediated divorce, the mediator oversees the process and guides the divorcing couple through issues as custody, support, separation of property, and more. In a collaborative divorce, no single person is in charge of the process; instead, you and your attorneys work as a team to come to agreement.

Costs

In some cases, collaborative divorces cost a bit more than mediation because the attorneys are directly involved for longer periods of time. However, many couples prefer to pay the extra money to have advocates helping them through the complex decision-making processes of working out divorce agreements.

At Freed Marcroft, we believe in win-win divorce agreements whenever possible. Our attorneys are well-versed in collaborative divorce negotiations, and we can also offer expert advice during the mediation process. To learn more, contact our offices today.

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Written by Freed Marcroft