People often ask what is the difference between Divorce Mediation and Collaborative-Mediation.

For certain, “divorce mediation” are the new buzz words in family law, but what does it really mean? Many jurisdictions now require that disputes be mediated before the parties head to court. Is this just an unnecessary step in an already lengthy legal process? Or is there real value to mediation?

Simply put, mediation is voluntary negotiation with the assistance of a neutral mediator. The mediator guides the parties through discussions to determine the issues in dispute and to suggest possible solutions. The mediator will try to enhance communication between the parties and move them toward an agreement. Each party may have their own counsel at the mediation, who will be able to point out the pros and cons of various settlement proposals. Or, the parties may devise a settlement proposal with just the mediator, and then have it reviewed by their independent counsel at a later time. Mediation is not binding until the parties reach an agreement, and that agreement is approved by the court.

The mediation process combines four key components: the process is voluntary and the parties may leave at any time for any reason, a collaborative approach is employed, the mediator is impartial and does not represent the sole interests of either party, an agreement can only be reached with the consent of both parties, and the process is confidential.

The success or failure of the mediation process is greatly dependent upon the parties involved. If communication between the parties has deteriorated to a point where there is now a level of distrust, reaching an agreement may be unlikely. However, if the parties approach the mediation process as a tool with which to quickly, and hopefully less painfully, resolve their disputed issues, it can be invaluable. Mediated settlement agreements generally involve far less time, and money, than litigated matters. For parties who wish to remain on good terms, and are committed to negotiating in good-faith to reach an equitable settlement, mediation may just be the answer.

How Does Collaborative-Mediation Differ From Divorce Mediation?

Even outside of divorce litigation, couples may still find difficulty negotiating the often-complex details of the divorce, and that’s where the Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett will help guide you through the Collaborative-Mediation process. Collaborative-Mediation is like Divorce Meditation, but Collaborative-Mediation requires both parties be represented by an attorney, whereas mediation does not. Thus, the Collaborative-Mediation process is not presided over by a third-party Mediator.

“In the Collaborative-Mediation process, the representing attorneys help guide the couple through some of the more complex issues that the spouses are finding difficult to agree upon,” explains Leon F. Bennett, Esq., Founding Partner of his Woodland Hills-based family law firm. By choosing collaboration, clients allow attorneys to assist them in resolving conflict by using cooperative techniques and respectful negotiation rather than adversarial strategies and costly litigation. If need be, our attorneys will retain experts in any necessary field from accountants to child custody specialists and psychologists, who will support your goals.

Both parties remain in control over the issues with seasoned attorneys present to help navigate the murkier waters. Most importantly, you and your former spouse will truly control the outcome instead of leaving your fate in the hands of a judge when it comes to issues like spousal and child support. The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett will work with you to achieve your specific goals in the Collaborative-Mediation process.

Leon F. Bennett has served as a Mediator for Family Law matters, as well as independent counsel for the review of mediated agreements. To speak with Mr. Bennett about whether Mediation is right for you, please contact our offices at (818) 888-7731 to schedule a complimentary free consultation.