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Should I do divorce mediation or collaborative law for my divorce?

May 14, 2018

Divorce is always a difficult process. However, choosing the right style of divorce can make a huge difference in the tone of the process as well as its outcome. Many people choose one of three options: divorce litigation, divorce mediation and collaborative law. Which of these is right for you? The answer depends on your unique situation and your relationship with your soon to be ex-spouse.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is traditionally an alternative to the classic court-based divorce that fuels gossip and media headlines. In general, couples who choose this route see a professional divorce mediator who is supposed to act impartially and help people to come to an agreement. The fees and costs associated with this method vary, but are usually cheaper than other means of negotiating a divorce. Many divorce lawyers are qualified to act as mediators and will charge their usual fees. Other professionals will charge either by the hour or a flat fee. Because only one professional is needed rather than two legal teams, this is a bargain.

In this process, couples meet with the impartial mediator and attempt to negotiate a settlement. They present documents and evidence to support their claims and requests. This is usually done without attorneys, although people can meet with their personal attorneys outside of mediation for review. The mediator reviews all of the presented evidence and arguments, then recommends a divorce settlement that is fair and satisfactory to everyone involved. If the two parties agree, the divorce can be completed quickly and with minimal expense.

Collaborative Law: The Cooperative Option

Collaborative law is another alternative to traditional divorce litigated in a courtroom. It is similar to mediation but uses individual attorneys instead. Both parties choose an attorney who will represent their interests. The couple and their attorneys meet to share information, express their wishes, and ultimately craft a divorce agreement that is agreeable to both.

Collaborative law attorneys must be familiar with the process and dedicated to helping the couple come to an agreement even while representing the best interests of their clients. These attorneys generally will only continue with a case while it is a collaborative process. As a result, couples who ultimately need courts to intervene will have to find a new lawyer. This general rule keeps collaborative lawyers from having a financial incentive to encourage litigation.

This route can be more expensive than mediation because it requires two different attorneys and their staff to be involved as opposed to a single mediator. In other words, it can mean twice the bills. However, many people prefer this method. Their attorney ensures that their rights are advocated for and the couple ultimately has the final say on the outcome rather than a mediator.

Both collaborative law and divorce mediation have one thing in common: they are almost always cheaper and faster than court litigated in divorce. These divorces generally take just a few months while a courtroom divorce can continue almost endlessly and end up costing far more than the amount of assets being divided.

Shortcomings of Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Law

There is one major downside to both of these alternatives to traditional litigation-based divorce. Both parties have to agree to these styles. If one divorcing spouse wishes to take the matter to court, that is how the divorce will happen.

You cannot force a spouse to go through mediation or collaborative processes with you. Further, it would not be a good idea to force someone into this. Both processes require good faith, good communication, and mutual respect. If there is animosity between the two parties, they will not be able to come to a successful agreement. In some cases, couples can undergo specialized couples therapy to help them become cooperative enough to avoid extended courtroom battles.

Which Style of Divorce Is Best for Me?

There are several considerations in deciding which style of divorce is best for you. First, you have to consider your relationship with your soon to be ex-spouse. Are you capable of undergoing a cooperative process? If not, a collaborative divorce is impossible and divorce mediation may be difficult.

In addition, there are financial considerations. If you do not have a lot of assets to divide, a courtroom style divorce will not be profitable for either party. If you and your partner are strapped for funds, mediation is likely the best decision as it is the cheapest option. In addition, mediation is often best for couples who both just want the divorce to be final as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Ultimately, mediation and collaborative divorce both lead to people feeling more satisfied with the divorce outcome. People who undergo either of these processes are also more likely to comply with the agreement. Last, these processes allow a couple to remain friends rather than adversaries throughout the divorce and beyond. This is particularly beneficial to any children, extended family, and mutual friends who are involved.

Getting the Process Started

If you are ready to begin one of these kinds of divorce, it is important to consult with an attorney who is familiar with both styles. An experienced New York divorce lawyer is your first step to beginning a divorce free of courtrooms and judges. If you are in the Long Island area, contact Long Island Divorce Lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

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