What are the Big Differences Between Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

Here in Connecticut, there are several options for divorcing couples who wish to avoid the high cost and stress of high conflict litigation. Two of the most popular alternatives—mediation and collaborative divorce—can work very well when both spouses come to the table with a cooperative spirit. The American Bar Association reports that 86 percent of collaborative divorce cases are successful. For mediated cases, the success rate is nearly 90 percent, according to Divorce Statistics.

Collaborative divorce and mediation serve the same goal: to create a win-win agreement outside the courts. But each approaches the goal a bit differently. What are some key differences?

Lawyer Involvement

In mediation, legal representation is encouraged, but effectively optional. A professional mediator oversees and guides the negotiations between you and your spouse while you iron out an agreement to be approved by the courts. An attorney can be involved as an advisor along the way or to review the agreement you and your spouse decide on (which we recommend, particularly to look over the agreement before you finalize your divorce), but you and your spouse can take responsibility for the details, with the help of the mediator.

In collaborative divorce, both spouses hire legal representation, and the lawyers take an active role in the negotiations. However, the attorneys take a far less combative stance than in litigation, and instead the lawyers function more like a team rather than opposing sides. They share the goal of helping the spouses reach agreements. In fact, all parties must sign an agreement not to litigate, so if your collaboration fails, you’ll need to hire a different attorney.

Guidance through the Process

In a mediated divorce, the mediator oversees the process and guides the divorcing couple through issues as custody, support, separation of property, and more. In a collaborative divorce, no single person is in charge of the process; instead, you and your attorneys work as a team to come to agreement.

Next Steps

If you and your spouse are willing to work together on your divorce, either collaborative divorce or mediation can help you complete all necessary negotiations and agreements in a respectful and positive manner.

If you would like to learn more about the different ways to divorce in Connecticut — collaborative divorce, mediation, and litigation — click here to watch our Founding Attorney Meghan Freed’s full presentation on Choosing Your Approach to Divorce.

At Freed Marcroft, we have helped hundreds of people move forward to a better life and make informed choices about their divorce options.  At our first step, the Goals & Planning Conference, we start by working through these questions with you to help you figure out your goals.  If you decide that divorce is part of what you need to do to get you to the future you want, we can help you.  If it isn’t, we will support you and help you figure out what you need to get you there instead.

Let’s keep you moving forward.

Written by Freed Marcroft