Divorces can be resolved in various ways. Perhaps one of the most thought of is litigation – where the couple goes to trial to have a judge decide how to handle disputes. However, a trial is not the only resolution method. Alternate approaches are available, which include mediation and collaborative divorce. Both options allow the couple to work out differences together and avoid a costly and time-consuming legal process. And while they are similar in those regards, they are different in how agreements between the couple are made. This blog examines the distinctions between mediation and a collaborative divorce.
Divorces Can Be Contentious Legal Battles
In a divorce, each party may want to achieve a particular outcome but fail to reach an agreement. These disagreements can lead to divorce litigation, which means taking the case to court and having a judge make a ruling on matters such as child support, custody, and property division.
During divorce litigation, both spouses present arguments themselves or through their lawyers. The process can be daunting as it often involves long court battles that can add stress, anger, and frustration to what already promises to be an emotionally turbulent time.
Additionally, litigation can lead to:
- Decreased privacy: When cases go through court, they can become a matter of public record.
- Higher costs: Litigation can be expensive, with spouses paying attorney fees, court costs, and expenses for hiring experts.
- Reduced decision making: The couple loses their agency in deciding how matters affecting their future and family are resolved, as a judge makes the determinations for them.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods Are Available
Alternative dispute resolution methods provide couples with avenues for making decisions together, as opposed to turning the matter over to a court. These options can be successful only if both spouses are willing to cooperate and recognize that compromises must be made on both sides.
Not only do alternative options often save time and money by avoiding costly litigation, but they also provide an opportunity for the couple to have a greater say in the outcome of their divorce.
Two types of alternative dispute resolutions include mediation and collaborative divorce. Both involve the couple working together, but the underlying processes differ slightly.
Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that a neutral third-party mediator facilitates. The process allows for constructive and cooperative conversations to take place in a structured setting, with the primary aim of enabling both parties to reach mutual agreements about divorce disputes.
The mediator's role is to empower each individual to speak up and actively listen as they discuss their issues, often focusing on future possibilities instead of dwelling on the past. It should be noted that the mediator does not offer recommendations or advice, nor can they ensure that an agreement will be reached. If the spouses eventually make an agreement, the mediator will proceed to draw up a settlement agreement to present to the court.
A collaborative divorce is like mediation in that the couple works together to resolve issues. It differs in that rather than a mediator facilitating conversations, each spouse hires an attorney. Having counsel on their side allows them to negotiate their own agreements with the benefit of receiving legal advice from a lawyer.
The collaborative process begins with each spouse meeting separately with their attorney. During the meeting, they discuss their wants and needs and a practical course for achieving them.
Then, all parties come together for negotiation sessions facilitated by the lawyers. The goal is mutually beneficial solutions for the couple. Although the attorneys assist in establishing agreements, their client’s interests remain paramount. Therefore, they zealously represent their client while working towards resolutions that will be satisfactory for all involved.
Speak with Our Firm About Your Options
Alternative divorce methods allow couples to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles in court. They also enable the couple to maintain control of the decisions affecting their lives. Whether you are considering going through divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce, a family law attorney can help ensure that your voice is heard. At the same time, they can establish ways to allow you and your spouse to cooperate and pursue favorable agreements.
Learn how our Los Angeles lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLP can help with your divorce by calling us at (310) 817-6904 or contacting us online.