Collaborative divorce vs. mediation: What’s the difference?

Couples who can no longer live together in harmony can still end their marriages without conflict and contention by opting for a collaborative divorce or divorce through mediation. There are differences between collaborative divorce vs. mediation, but the two processes share an important similarity. They keep the divorce out of the court system—until the final agreement is signed. This saves the parties time, money, and emotional energy. 

Suppose you plan to dissolve your marriage through collaborative divorce or mediation. In that case, securing representation from a knowledgeable Fairfax divorce lawyer from Select Law Partners PLLC is in your best interests.

What is collaborative divorce?

A team of professionals manages collaborative divorces. Each divorcing partner secures their lawyer, who should have training in alternative dispute resolution techniques. There are additional team members, including:

  • A divorce coach for each partner
  • A financial expert
  • A child well-being specialist

Team members can vary depending on the circumstances. For example, not all couples have children. However, parties should discuss options for excluding certain members with their attorneys before making decisions.

The guiding principles of collaborative divorce are the promise not to take the divorce to court and to treat each other respectfully. Should the process fail, each spouse must find new attorneys to represent them and start the process again. Collaborative divorce removes the threat of going to court, preventing the parties from wielding it as a negotiating tactic.

The collaborative divorce process encourages parties to develop creative solutions to meet their respective needs and serve their families’ best interests. While the divorcing spouses are responsible for directing the discussions and terms, their attorneys provide legal advice and protection, and other team members guide the parties to the most favorable solutions possible.

What is divorce through mediation?

A mediator, a neutral third party trained in alternative dispute resolution, manages the divorce mediation. Mediators remain unbiased and do not:

  • Advocate for either party
  • Discuss the pros and cons of specific divorce terms

Each party’s respective attorney takes care of those responsibilities. Attorneys are not a legal requirement for divorce mediation. The mediator is the go-between, presenting each “side” with the other’s offer or counter-offer. For mediation without attorneys, the mediator writes up the final terms of the settlement agreement that will eventually be incorporated into a final divorce order. 

How does having an attorney during mediation help me?

Divorcing spouses are most protected when they have their attorneys, even in a mediated divorce. Though many mediators are actual attorneys, they do not act in that capacity and are there to guide the settlement process. That’s why hiring an attorney who knows Virginia divorce laws during mediation is most beneficial. They will be there to:

  • Represent your interests
  • Ensure you get divorced 
  • Draft, negotiate, and review the final agreement

When you have an experienced attorney dedicated to your best interests and your children’s, you can rely on their skills to avoid unfair compromises. Your lawyer will advise you regarding potential problems that could arise after the divorce is finalized and work to correct those during mediation. 

Should I choose collaboration or mediation for my divorce?

When deciding whether to employ a collaborative team or mediation for divorce, consider the benefits of both. Collaborative divorces work best when parties are amicable, willing to compromise, and trustworthy. An uncooperative soon-to-be ex can undermine the process. Collaborative divorces typically cost far less than a traditional, in-court divorce but come at the expense of hiring a team.

Choosing mediation can save time and money spent during a litigated divorce but is safest when parties have guidance from their attorneys. Abusive spouses can continue to intimidate or gaslight their partners during mediation. Without an attorney to protect their rights and prevent them from agreeing to unfair conditions, the abused spouse can continue to suffer that treatment during the divorce process.

Protect yourself throughout the divorce process

A Fairfax divorce lawyer can help you choose the best option for your situation and provide trustworthy, protective representation throughout all proceedings. Send a message or call (855) 541-4867 to schedule a meeting with an experienced, compassionate Select Law Partners PLLC team member. 

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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