There are a number of similarities between divorce collaboration and divorce mediation: both processes rely on open communication, honesty, and problem-solving. Both often save the divorcing couple time, money, and stress. However, there are several key differences between the two types of non-litigious divorce that you should understand before choosing which is right for you and your family.

Three Differences Between Mediation & Collaborative Divorce

  • Divorce collaboration does not involve a mediator. The central feature of divorce mediation is a neutral, third party mediator who guides everyone through the process with the final goal of reaching a fair settlement. Divorce collaboration has no neutral mediator. Instead, it relies on the husband, the wife, and their respective lawyers to come to a settlement without going to court. Some people prefer to have a moderator who does not take sides in the room, while others prefer to work out a settlement with both divorce attorneys in the room.
  • Attorneys play an active role in collaborative divorce. In divorce mediation, you are encouraged to have a divorce attorney to consult with in between mediation sessions and to help you review the final settlement before you agree to it. However, your attorney is rarely present in the actual mediation sessions themselves. In collaborative divorce, your attorney plays an active role in the collaboration from beginning to end, and works directly with you, your spouse, and your spouse’s attorney.
  • Collaborative attorneys can’t help with litigation. If mediation fails, your attorney can continue working with you as you go to court to settle your divorce. But in collaborative divorce, your attorney signs an agreement at the beginning of the process that states that she will not represent you in court if you do not settle your divorce in collaboration. In other words, you will need to find a new divorce attorney if collaboration fails. If mediation fails, you can continue working with your lawyer.

How to Choose Between Mediation & Collaborative Divorce

It can be an easy decision to choose between taking your spouse to court and settling your divorce through an alternate route. But choosing that alternate route can be more difficult, especially since divorce mediation and collaborative divorce can look very similar from afar. While choosing between these two options, ask yourself the following four questions:

  • How important is a neutral mediator? Some people feel more secure having a neutral third party listening to the conversation and guiding both parties toward a fair settlement. Some might be more comfortable knowing a totally unbiased party is in on the agreement.
  • Do you want your lawyer in the room? In mediation, your lawyer will rarely be with you during sessions. For those who need the added security of a constant legal advocate, collaborative divorce may be a better option.
  • How comfortable are you speaking up for yourself? In mediation, you are on your own to voice your opinions and explain your demands. In collaboration, you will have an attorney on your side to help make sure that your voice is heard and that you don’t give up on important aspects of the settlement.
  • Do you want other professionals involved in your settlement? In collaboration, a financial expert and a counselor may be part of the team helping you and your spouse toward a fair settlement. While some people like the extra information and support, others would rather keep the settlement between themselves and their ex-partner.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we have attorneys that can help you whether you are considering a collaborative divorce or divorce mediation. If you are seeking an out-of-court divorce in Washington State and need legal assistance, call our Seattle divorce attorneys today for more information at 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington