How Is Collaborative Divorce Different Than Mediation?
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process (ADR) where a neutral third-party (Mediator) helps the spouses in reaching a resolution of all disputed issues of the divorce. The mediator is a neutral party and does not give any advice to the spouses and has no power to decide the case.
In fact, there is no requirement that the mediator be a lawyer. The role of the divorce mediator is to assist the parties negotiate effectively, help identify areas of dispute, and act as a peacemaker amidst negotiations. The mediator helps to keep lines of communication open and assists in fostering the decision-making process by keeping the spouses focused on the issues.
Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and flexible. It puts the parties in control of both process and the outcome. According to Mediate.com , the average cost of a divorce mediation case is $3000 with settlement within 90 days. This is less than a third of the average cost of a litigated divorce.
Upon reaching an agreement of the issues, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding. This will ultimately become part of the divorce agreement. Typically, the spouses will take this Memorandum of Understanding to their respective attorneys for review and preparation of the divorce agreement.
Collaborative divorce is a client-centered, interest-based negotiation model for resolving divorce disputes. The backbone of this process is the Participation Agreement. This is a written agreement by which both parties and their attorneys make a commitment to working together in good faith toward a mutually beneficial resolution of the issues. Both parties agree that they will not ask the court to decide a disputed issue while in the collaborative divorce process. In addition, both parties agree to voluntarily disclose all financial and relevant information and to always act in good faith in accordance with the agreement.
If at any time anyone pursues court involvement, both attorneys must withdraw from the case. This ensures that everyone “has skin in the game.” This also allows the parties to move forward in a cooperative environment without fear of posturing. If an agreement cannot be reached successfully and the collaborative process is ultimately terminated, the spouses will need to retain different attorneys if they want to proceed in court.
Divorce Attorney Kerry Burleigh Discusses Collaborative Divorce on Carolina Today
How Collaborative Divorce Works
In collaborative divorce, each party hires their own attorney and all parties work together in a cooperative, and non-adversarial environment. It is important that the attorneys be trained in the collaborative process. The collaborative attorneys also sign the participation agreement. In the collaborative process, the spouses and their attorneys conduct negotiations during a series of private meetings. Neutral collaborative professionals are also available as needed to facilitate reaching an agreement on the issues. These neutral collaborative professionals may include financial professionals, a child specialist, mental health professionals, and advisors. Because the collaborative professionals are neutral parties, the spouses can be confident that they are truly working to find creative and shared solutions in the interest of all parties involved.