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What is the difference between mediation and collaborative law?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Family Law |

Both mediation and collaborative law are ways in which couples in the Los Angeles area can resolve their divorces without having to go through the court process.

These ways can save a resident of Southern California a great deal of time, stress and expense during their divorces.

To give a couple of examples, a person does not have to worry about waiting for a court date that can be months or even years away and then preparing for a contentious hearing.

They also do not have to worry that at the end of the day, they will have to live with a decision that is not fair to them. In both mediation and collaborative law, the couple must compromise. Neither side will get everything they want.

They also have the added benefit of additional privacy and confidentiality.

Finally, especially if a couple has children, both processes can set a tone of cooperation between two spouses who are going their separate ways. Children benefit when their parents, even if not living together, are able to work together to raise them.

However, collaborative law and mediation differ in several important respects:

  • In a mediation, the couple will hire a professional called a mediator. That person will work with the couple to negotiate their differences and reach an agreement. The mediator must keep what the couple discusses in mediation confidential.
  • A couple can each have their own attorney in a mediation. If the mediation does not work, they keep their attorneys and may move forward with a court hearing. They may even try mediation, even after scheduling a court hearing.
  • The couple has to try to reach an agreement in good faith during mediation, but they do not make any promises to share information freely. As long as they follow the law, they only have to share what they wish to share with the other side.
  • In a collaborative divorce, there is no third party to help the couple negotiate. Instead, they and their attorneys formally agree among themselves to work together to resolve their issues out of court.
  • Although there is no mediator, a couple using the collaborative process may agree to rely on the opinion or advice of certain professionals like accountants or child psychologists, for example.
  • If either side decides the collaborative process is not working, they may opt to move in the direction of a court hearing. However, both attorneys will withdraw from the case if that happens. The couple would each have to get new attorneys to help them with their court matter.

A person will have to decide which option is right for them

Whether mediation or collaborative law are a good fit for a California resident’s situation is a question that a person should discuss with their attorney.

In some cases, neither approach will work. That person should, given their circumstances, instead opt for litigation. If they have to do so, they should keep in mind that negotiating is still possible.