Mediation And Collaborative Law
Divorcing parties in who wish to use a settlement process that supports cooperation, transparency, a commitment to steer clear of litigation, as well as a respectful transition from their marriage have two primary alternatives: Mediation and Collaborative Law. While they may look different, the two processes have the kind of similar underpinnings that were noted above. As such, they are appealing ways for many parties to move through what can be a cumbersome and arbitrary legal system.
In mediation, the parties employ a single neutral divorce mediator to guide them through the settlement process and legal process. The job of the divorce mediator is to provide the kind of relevant legal and other information to the parties that will allow them to make informed and reasonable decisions. The mediator helps the parties think through the various options for settlement and explains the particular ramifications of each option.
As well, if needed the mediator will employ outside experts to focus on particular aspects of the settlement process. For example, these may include a child specialist to aid with parenting issues or financial specialists to aid with complex financial and tax related matters. The mediator can also prepare the necessary legal documents to both initiate and complete the legal divorce.
For those parties more comfortable having their own attorney to specifically advise them during the settlement process, a collaborative law divorce is best suited. The same commitment to arriving at a fair and reasonable settlement exists here as it does in mediation; however, the parties have the benefit of working hand in hand with their own attorneys throughout the process.
Once the collaborative attorneys are familiar with the case, they convene with the parties in a series of four-way meetings to discuss the issues and the various ways they may be settled. Legal posturing and threats to “go to court” are not a part of collaborative law, for at the outset the parties and the attorneys sign an agreement that no court intervention will occur. Thus, where impasses occur, everyone must become creative and go the extra mile to move past whatever the roadblock may be, since having the impasse settled through litigation is not an option.
The collaborative law process also employs outside experts when needed, and these professionals become part of the collaborative team. Such employment usually reduces the total fees in the case, since the experts are better equipped to deal with their particular subject areas than are the attorneys, and often at a lesser fee. A child specialist is one such example. In addition, many collaborative divorce cases involve the use of a single divorce coach, who works with the parties to help them keep an even emotional keel during the sometimes stressful marriage dissolution process. Having a divorce coach on the collaborative team can often save untold emotional diversions from the settlement path and save the parties significant fees.