When a couple is going through divorce, two popular options often come up: collaborative divorce and mediation. While both approaches seek to avoid litigation or going to trial, mediation is a more effective and efficient way to resolve conflicts amicably. In this blog post, we will explore why mediation is recommended if possible over collaborative divorce.
Understanding Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce involves each party having their own attorney and engaging in negotiations to reach a settlement. When you hire a collaborative attorney, they’ve agreed that if your case goes to court, they will not represent you and you’ll have to get another attorney if you go to trial. Therefore, collaborative attorneys are incentivized not to be as adversarial and to help you come to agreement without litigation. However, you’re still paying two attorneys to communicate with each other and with you which can result in significant attorney fees.
The Power of Mediation
Mediation, on the other hand, offers a structured and confidential process where a neutral third party (the mediator) works with the couple to reach an agreement. Here's why mediation is recommended versus collaborative divorce:
1. Neutral mediators
The mediator in a divorce mediation process does not advocate for either party. Their role is to facilitate productive discussions, provide information, and guide the couple towards mutually beneficial agreements. This neutrality reduces the chances of imbalances in power and ensures a fair and level playing field.
Mediation typically costs less than collaborative divorce. With one neutral mediator rather than two attorneys, couples can save on legal fees and related expenses.
3. Greater Empowerment and Control:
In mediation, the couple retains greater control over their divorce settlement. Instead of relying on attorneys to negotiate on their behalf, couples actively participate in discussions and collaboratively make decisions that align with their unique circumstances.
4. Focus on Effective Communication:
Mediation encourages effective communication and problem-solving skills. Through guided discussions facilitated by the mediator, couples have the opportunity to address underlying issues, express their concerns, and develop strategies to avoid future conflicts. These valuable skills can have a long-lasting positive impact on co-parenting and future interactions.
5. Emphasis on Preserving Relationships:
Mediation enables the parties to work together as a unit which can maintain and preserve the relationship, especially important in cases involving ongoing co-parenting. Collaborative divorce, while aiming to reduce conflict, can still potentially strain relationships due to the involvement of attorneys.
Mediation is not suitable for every couple or every divorce situation. It is best for couples who are willing to work together, communicate openly, and share a commitment to reach a mutually beneficial resolution. It may not be recommended in cases where there is a high level of hostility, abuse, or an inability to negotiate in good faith.
While collaborative divorce may have originated as a strong alternative to traditional litigation, mediation has proven to be a better option for many couples looking to resolve their divorce conflicts amicably.
Jill Barnett Kaufman is a Divorce Coach, Therapist, Parent Educator and Divorce Mediator. She is an experienced professional who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges when considering divorce, starting the process of divorce or are already divorced.