Divorce Mediation & Collaborative Law
Oftentimes, the idea of divorce conjures up images of conflict and drawn-out court battles. But divorce doesn’t need to be like this. Instead, many divorcing couples find success through an Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Law. For the right situations, negotiating a divorce settlement through either one of these processes can help couples resolve their disagreements amicably, efficiently, and with less cost than traditional litigation. Importantly, it provides couples with more control over both the divorce process and its outcome.
At Saltzgiver & Boyle, our divorce attorneys are experienced in utilizing both mediation and collaborative law processes to help divorcing couples resolve their disputes without the need for costly litigation. We work to ensure fair and satisfying outcomes for both parties, so that you and your spouse can find meaningful closure to the marriage and move forward confidently in your respective lives.
Mediation is an informal and non-binding process overseen by a neutral, third-party mediator. In divorce mediation, both spouses (and their attorneys, if they choose) meet with a mediator to discuss and resolve disagreements in the divorce. This can take as little as one session or as many as necessary, over any period of time that the parties agree to. The mediator’s role in the process is to facilitate a productive dialogue that achieves a mutually beneficial outcome for each party. The mediator does not make decisions, but rather, assists the parties in coming to their own decisions.
Collaborative Law is a relatively new variation of alternative dispute resolution, where each spouse’s attorneys work together to craft a mutually acceptable divorce settlement. Similar to traditional mediation, the goal is to come to an agreement without litigation. But unlike mediation, a mediator is not involved. Instead, both parties and their attorneys work in collaboration with each other to make decisions and control the divorce process.
As an additional incentive to achieve a successful resolution, each party’s attorneys will sign a “no court” agreement. This will require the attorneys to withdraw from the case if a settlement can not be reached. This not only provides a strong incentive to the attorneys, but also to each spouse, each of whom must hire new attorneys and start fresh if the process fails.
In addition to its use in divorce matters, the collaborative law approach can also be applied successfully to child custody or support matters, grandparent rights, prenuptial agreements, domestic partnerships, same-sex marriage issues and more.
The Benefits of Mediation And The Collaborative Law Approach
For divorcing couples who can work together openly to come to agreement, there are many benefits. Utilizing mediation or collaborative law methods…
- Cost less than traditional divorce
- Provide confidentiality (There is no public record of what is discussed at your sessions)
- Give you and your spouse greater control of the divorce process
- Allow you and your spouse to find solutions that meet your ideas of fairness, rather than what strict legal principles deem to be fair
- Can improve communication and cooperation between you and your spouse, which can benefit your future interactions
- Allow you still to have a lawyer on hand to provide legal advice
Is An Alternative Dispute Resolution Right For You?
While mediation and collaborative law are successful in a great many divorce cases, these options aren’t right for every situation.
Mediation is most effective when each spouse is forthcoming, comfortable addressing their wants and needs, can be respectful, and is willing to make some compromises. For couples who are willing to work together amicably to resolve their disputes, or for couples who already generally agree on what the outcome of their divorce should be, mediation makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand, because successful mediation requires a degree of trust and mutual respect, not all couples will benefit from the process. When either mistrust, a lack of respect, a sense of inequality, or physical or emotional abuse is present in the relationship, mediation is likely to fail to bring about a fair and satisfactory resolution.
Furthermore, mediation or a collaborative approach may not be successful if you and your spouse have strong disagreements about child custody terms. And it’s even more certain to be unsuccessful when their are allegations of abuse or neglect. In these cases, a court’s intervention may be necessary.