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Collaboration or mediation for divorce: Which one is best?

Not every divorcing couple wants to-or should-go through a long drawn out process in court, litigating their issues in front of a judge and the public. Some couples simply want to resolve matters on their own in a less hostile-and more affordable-manner.

Fortunately, alternative dispute resolution options, like collaboration and mediation, are available.

But what are the differences between the two methods? Which one is the best?

Mediation and collaboration are two types of dispute resolution methods available to divorcing parties in lieu of traditional litigation.

Both methods are conducted outside of a courtroom, typically in a more informal environment without a judge (who often knows little about a couple's circumstances). Both also tend to be more cost effective than litigation.

However, each avenue is quite different. Understanding a little bit about both will help determine which one is best for certain situations.

A bit about mediation

In mediation, a third party assists couples resolve aspects to their divorce, such as property and debt division, alimony, child custody and visitation matters. The party, referred to as a mediator, is neutral to both sides, specially trained with mediation methods.

Understanding collaboration

Through collaboration, parties resolve matters with the help of several parties. Each side has an attorney to assist with the collaboration process, with all four parties negotiating together. The collaboration process also typically involves other outside professionals. It is not unusual for therapists, counselors, financial consultants and other professionals to be a part of the negotiation process with this type of method.

So which ADR method is the best? The answer will depend on individual circumstances. Parties considering alternative dispute resolution methods to finalize a divorce or other family law matter should consult with an experience attorney with knowledge in such fields. A lawyer can offer advice on the best avenue based on specific goals.

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