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Divorce Options: Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

Divorce options include mediation and collaborative divorce. You may be aware that there are different options for obtaining a divorce, but have questions about what they are and what each process entails. Mediation is a familiar alternative to litigating a divorce, but many clients are not sure what to expect in a mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. A divorcing couple meets with one attorney-mediator to work through all of the issues arising out of their marital separation, including custody, support and the division of property. The mediator will guide the parties through each issue and facilitate the discussion. However, this is very much a client driven process.

Mediators do not provide individual legal advice. Occasionally, a mediator will help the parties evaluate their options when needed to keep the process moving forward past any obstacles. For the most part, though, the parties should be going into mediation with a willingness to compromise with their spouse. Once agreements are reached, the mediator will draft an agreement. Once that contract is signed, the divorce process itself becomes uncontested.

There are many benefits to mediation, but it is not right for everyone. Mediation allows couples to save the costs of paying for multiple attorneys and litigation. Each party should obtain independent legal advice, though, which entails additional costs. Mediation allows parties to maintain civility, which is particularly beneficial for parents who will have to continue to raise children together. In addition, mediation involves the open sharing of financial and other information. Therefore, there must be a certain level of trust that your spouse will be forthcoming with a full disclosure. Finally, the most significant obstacle to mediation is when there are issues of power and control or domestic violence in a relationship. Mediation does not work when the parties do not have equal bargaining power.

Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to litigation and mediation. It is another form of voluntary, alternative dispute resolution. You must hire an attorney who has been trained in collaborative divorce. The process begins with a signed participation agreement, and each party is represented by an attorney whose representation will terminate if there is any contested litigation. Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation in that it involves the voluntary disclosure of information and a commitment to making a good faith effort to negotiate. A unique feature of collaborative divorce is that it does not follow a traditional adversarial model of client representation. This means that both attorneys work with both parties to reach the best outcome for the family. At the same time, the parties have the benefit of being guided by their attorneys throughout the process. There are additional services available with a collaborative divorce. The parties may hire other experts including financial neutrals, divorce coaches, and child specialists to help with specific aspects of their case. All of these professionals are trained in the collaborative divorce process.

Some divorces require litigation, this is particularly true when there are emergent issues of custody or support.

The attorneys at Ross & Beckman, PLC have an extensive litigation practice. In many cases, though, alternate dispute resolution is the way to go. Many divorce attorneys are not able to provide mediation or collaborative divorce services. It is important to know that these options are available to you in your divorce.

If you have questions about what divorce option is right for you, please contact us today for a consultation.


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