What are the differences between Mediation and Collaborative Law?

You may find uncontested divorce beneficial if you and your spouse are able to negotiate. These include mediation and collaborative law.

The thought of going through the divorce process may be intimidating for many couples in Maryland, so much that some may stay in an unhappy marriages longer than they should. Some of the most common fears regarding divorce include the expense, time and heartache that it can involve, especially if couples take their disputes to court. Fortunately, other options may reduce many of these aspects and help ease the divorce process.

These options are known as alternative dispute resolution. The benefits of ending a marriage amicably may include the following:

• Less expensive and time-consuming than a traditional litigated divorce

• More private than having disputes aired publicly in court

• Reduced stress, conflict and tension

• Teaches problem-solving, negotiation, communication and cooperation skills

• Shields children from being exposed to the worst of the conflict

It is important for divorcing couples to understand the differences between two of the most popular types of alternative dispute resolution - mediation and collaborative law.

What is mediation?

According to the American Bar Association, mediation may be quite cost-effective and take a fraction of the time that a litigated divorce could take, provided that each spouse is willing to cooperate and compromise. During mediation, a neutral third party sits with the couple to discuss their divorce disputes and help them reach an agreement. This third party may be an attorney with mediation experience or a certified mediator. Each spouse may also consult his and her own attorney to be sure their best interests are being met. An attorney may be especially beneficial after an agreement is reached but before it becomes a binding document

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a method of alternative dispute resolution that also involves negotiation and cooperation. However, this option may be more beneficial for couples who have complex issues. Each spouse will have his and her own attorney. They may also consult other professionals, including financial advisors, tax specialists and child therapists. During a collaborative divorce, everyone agrees that they will not take the issue to court. However, if they are not able to reach an agreement, the attorneys must resign from the case and each spouse will need to seek new attorneys. Conducting a divorce in this way may give each party an incentive to work together, to avoid the additional expense and hassle of hiring new attorneys.

Understanding the divorce options available to you may help you make an informed decision as to which method is best suited to your situation. However, it may help to discuss your case with an experienced Maryland family law attorney before deciding on one particular option.