Should I do divorce mediation or collaborative law for my divorce?

If your spouse refuses to go to divorce mediation or collaborative law, then the question is already answered since mediation and collaborative law are both voluntary processes.  You still can get a divorce, but the process will be under the traditional adversarial litigation model.  Some cases under the traditional approach can be settled right away as an uncontested matter while others might drag on for years with a heavy emotional and financial toll. As a Long Island Divorce Mediation Lawyer, litigator, and Collaborative Divorce Attorney, I am familiar will all of these models.  Divorce mediation and collaborative law are considered alternative dispute resolution methods.  I am a big fan of either of these, in place of litigation, for the right couples.  This blog will describe the two methods and some of the pros and cons of each.

Some people are purely driven by the fees that are going to be associated with going through the divoconference roomrce process.  As a general rule, mediation is the less expensive alternative.  Each case is different, and the professionals that work with you on your divorce mediation can have their own billing and payment methods, but I can relay details about fees for a typical divorce mediation that I handle.  While mediating the issues with a divorcing couple I charge my usual hourly rate.  Once a consensus is made I am able to offer hourly or flat rates to be the drafting attorney for the settlement agreement and the uncontested divorce filing to get the divorce finalized and entered.  Collaborative law cases will in most instances be more costly than a mediated case. Usually it will be less costly than a fully litigated case however.  The New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, of which I am a member, is now integrating streamlined protocols into our regular collaborative case procedures which are designed, in part, to help make the process more economical.

Typically,  mediating couples will come to the mediator and go through the process without attorneys present during the mediation sessions.  The mediator does not represent either side so is not there to give either party legal advice.  Couples are encouraged to each consult with their own review attorneys at a minimum after a draft of a settlement agreement is prepared.  Some individuals choose to meet with their own attorneys before mediating or in between mediation sessions.  Not everyone does use the recommendation to have review attorneys but it is advised.  The parties work together with the mediator to resolve all the issues that need to be addressed for the couple, and their children to dissolve the marriage and move on with their lives.  In divorce mediation the parties settle their marital issues together with dignity.

In collaborative law, each party has their own attorney that is retained by the client so that the party has access to legal advice from the inception to the close of the case.  The lawyer will be in attendance with the client at the meetings where key issues of the case are agreed upon.  Typically there are two lawyers, two communication coaches, a child specialist and a financial specialist who is neutral to both spouses.  The couple is encouraged and helped to hold the children’s concerns as paramount in settling the issues of the case.  The financial specialist empowers the couple to disclose and share information.  Together the full collaborative team and the couples have the tools and resources to brainstorm the different avenues available to resolve all their issues.  Some people call collaboratively settled cases the gold standard of divorces as the parties and a team of professionals craft the solutions together.

The time for both mediated cases and collaborative cases is much more expeditious than a litigated case. It is reasonable to expect that a case that will be decided by a judge could take one to a few years to complete.  A reasonable expectation of mediated and collaborative cases is a time period of months. The average mediated case is resolved more expeditiously than a collaborative case.  There are outlying cases in all processes that take much longer or shorter than average so please take the information as a guide and not the rule.

Hopefully the foregoing information was useful in your consideration about divorce mediation and collaborative divorce cases.  Mediating couples are invited to come in together for a half hour free consultation.  A perspective collaborative client can call for their free in office or phone consultation.