Are you going through a divorce, but want to keep out of the courtroom? If so, there are two optimal routes to follow: divorce mediation, and collaborative divorce. But which is best for you and your family?
Before deciding on a course of action, get a feel for the major distinctions between mediation and collaboration. Whether you require a mediator to reach a settlement or a divorce attorney to represent you, the family law experts at The Law Offices of Jennifer Owens are here to navigate you through it all.
Divorce Mediation vs. Collaborative Divorce
There are five ways in which divorce mediation and a collaborative divorce may differ: the number of legal professionals involved, the neutrality of each process, differences between advice and information, how long it may take, and the peacefulness of each path.
1 Mediator vs. 2 Lawyers
When you enter divorce mediation with a family law expert, you and your spouse won’t need separate lawyers. Divorce mediation only requires one mediator per couple, while a collaborative divorce typically involves two lawyers. Other outside professionals are usually brought into the mix with collaborative divorce, such as a custody specialist, financial professional, therapist, divorce coach, or a mediator.
Neutral Mediators vs. Representative Lawyers
Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce also differ in their neutrality; mediators act as neutral third parties and don’t necessarily take a side, with the goal of helping couples reach a mutually beneficial settlement together. On the other hand, a collaborative lawyer only represents one spouse, and works with the other spouse’s attorney to reach an agreeable settlement. However, don’t assume you’ll have to go to court for a collaborative divorce. Both spouses and their lawyers will typically sign a contract agreeing not to go to court, and if a settlement can’t be reached, both lawyers will agree to withdraw.
Mediators Inform, Lawyers Advise
This is a significant differentiator, since it greatly contributes to how a solution is reached. Mediators don’t necessarily provide legal advice to their clients – they empower each spouse to work together, make their own choices, and move forward. In a collaborative divorce however, your lawyer will directly advise you every step of the way. Custody agreements, parenting plans, and other important divorce documents are decided on according to your attorney’s expertise, rather than reaching a solution through spousal collaboration.
Differences In Timetables
Each mediated divorce is subject to varying timetables, though for the most part, it won’t take nearly as long to finalize as a collaborative approach. This is because in mediation, you and your partner control the pace of the divorce. Once you’ve settled any conflicts that require settlement, all that’s left is to file, get a court date, and finalize. Comparably, since there are more people involved, a collaborative divorce takes longer to finalize on average. Coordinating meetings with your attorneys, financial professionals, custody experts, and others takes time, so the process is naturally extended.
Peaceful vs. Adversarial
When you work with a divorce mediator, the environment is meant to be cooperative. You, your spouse, and a family law expert are working together towards a shared goal: to reach a mutually beneficial settlement for the whole family. As for collaborative divorce, while it can most definitely be approached in a cooperative manner, it’s usually more adversarial. Since each spouse is represented by different counsel, it can be difficult to escape the us vs. them atmosphere.
Are you struggling to decide between the path of mediation and collaborative divorce? The family law experts at The Law Offices of Jennifer Owens are here to lend a hand.
Opt for Divorce Mediation with an Orange County Mediator
Divorce is an emotional journey to endure. On top of the bitterness and anger which often result from a formal separation, the subsequent legal battles tend to make the whole process even more painful. At the Law Offices of Jennifer Owens, we revel in the power of choice. When spouses face divorce, they’re presented with a slew of decisions with a handful of potential outcomes. Our attorneys are believers in the best possible outcome, where a former couple chooses peace over destruction, so that they can finally move onto their next chapter. We can help with that. No matter your desired path – divorce mediation, a negotiated settlement, or even litigation – The Law Offices of Jennifer Owens will achieve the best possible outcome by reaching a settlement that keeps all involved parties in mind. Visit our website to review our family law services or contact us online for a free consultation.