MEDIATOR / COLLABORATIVE ATTORNEY
Mediation is a cooperative problem-solving process where the parties meet together with a neutral mediator in several working sessions to work out such issues as property division, alimony, child support, and parenting arrangements.
The mediator does not represent either party, but assists the couple in developing creative options that address the specific needs of each party.
In mediation, the focus is not on winning or losing, but on finding creative and equitable solutions that benefit both parties.. In addition to assisting the parties in reaching an agreement, the mediator:
Prepares all other documents the parties need to initiate and finalize their divorce;
Assists the parties in gathering all financial information necessary to discuss and negotiate the financial issues in the divorce;
Assists the parties in obtaining valuation of all marital assets, including the marital home and other real property, retirement benefits, and stock options;
May refer the parties to outside professionals, such as family therapists and financial planners for counseling on financial and parenting issues. The mediator will work with these professionals as a team to facilitate resolution of the issues.
Mediation is well suited for couples who value controlling the process as well as the outcome of their divorce, and who feel confident and comfortable negotiating directly with each other.
Collaborative Law is a cooperative problem-solving process where the parties and their respective attorneys meet in four-way negotiation conferences to resolve all issues in the divorce, such as property division, alimony, child support and parenting arrangements.
The parties and their attorneys sign a collaborative law agreement, which states that the parties and attorneys will work in good faith to negotiate and settle all issues without resorting to court. The parties and their attorneys share a formal and binding commitment to keep the process honest, respectful, and productive on both sides.
If the four-way settlement process breaks down completely, and the parties elect to go to court, both attorneys are contractually barred from representing the parties in court. Thus, there is a built in incentive for both the attorneys and the parties to achieve settlement out of court.
The collaborative process includes:
Full and voluntary disclosure by both parties of assets and other financial information ensuring full transparency
A commitment by the parties to settlement versus litigation
Commitment that the needs and goals of each party will be considered and met whenever possible
Agreement to use outside professionals, such as financial planners and family therapists, where necessary to facilitate settlement
Collaborative law is well suited to cases where both parties value the opportunity to play a primary role in the creation, design, and implementation of creative solutions to their disputes in an emotionally safe environment. As with mediation, collaborative law is a process that values children and shields them from the harm and rancor associated with litigated divorces.