Mediation and collaboration can both be used where a divorce is contested and spouses are experiencing difficulties in reaching an agreement.
The main difference between mediation and a collaborative divorce is in the way an agreement is reached rather than the end result itself.
With mediation, a trained, independent mediator (who may or may not be an attorney) is hired to bring the couple to an agreement on the outstanding issues in the divorce agreement.
It is a cooperative approach where the final decision is in the hands of the spouses, who must decide what to do based on the guidance from the mediator. The mediator will then often draw up the required paperwork.
With a collaborative divorce, the end result may be the same. It is also a cooperative rather than an adversarial approach.
However, each spouse hires a lawyer to represent their interests. The lawyers then negotiate (in the presence of the spouses and other professionals, if necessary) and arrange the terms of the divorce based on each client’s best interests.
Both options can be preferable to litigation due to lower costs and stress levels, fewer delays, and the reduced potential for the divorce to negatively impact the children.
Note that if the two lawyers hired in a collaborative divorce fail to reach an agreement, the same lawyers are not permitted to represent you in the litigation stage of a divorce.