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Mediation versus collaborative divorce

Previous post on this blog have talked about how divorce mediation is a useful tool for resolving divorces, as well as other family law issues, amicably. As these previous posts discussed, mediation involves a neutral third party with some family law and divorce experience.

This mediator will use a variety of techniques, usually involving at least one sit-down meeting, to bring the couple to an agreement on any outstanding issues related to things like custody, child support, property division and the like.

Another process that White Plains residents should consider is a collaborative law divorce. Unlike mediation, a collaborative divorce does not involve the hiring of a mediator; instead, the process is driven by the couple themselves and their attorneys.

The hallmark of a collaborative divorce is that each side retains an attorney who commits to representing their respective party only to the extent that the parties are going to try to reach an agreement outside of court and in an open and transparent manner.

If either side decides to take the more contentious route of litigating and then trying to settle for the best deal possible, both attorneys terminate their representation.

The idea behind the process is that, while both sides still get the legal help they need, the attorney will serve more as an advisor and protector rather than the traditional zealous advocate. Everything about the couple's finances, child custody, and the like are supposed to be open and out on the table. Documents and other information which in a traditional setting would be subpoenaed are instead shared freely, with an eye toward getting a settlement that is fair for everyone.

Like divorce mediation, collaborative divorce is not right for every case. Still, a New Yorker who is interested in pursuing this option should speak to his or her attorney.

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