Divorce can offer some of the most difficult decisions a couple will ever have to make to assure each party is taken care of along with their children. The question is how to embark on that bumpy road to divorce to assure the best closure for the couple.

It’s a sad, but truthful fact: About 50% of all married couples will get a divorce. There are three ways to approach the impending divorce:

  • Divorce Litigation
  • Divorce Mediation
  • Collaborative-Mediation

So what are the differences?

Divorce Litigation is the old-school way of handling the end of a marriage. It involves an attorney, a judge and can be an extremely expensive and bitter battleground where animosity can cloud behavior and the importance of finding a fair and equitable outcome. In addition traditional Divorce Litigation can be very expensive as compared to alternatives such as Collaborative-Mediation in California. This is where a Collaborative-Mediation can have many beneficial benefits over litigation. 

Collaborative-Mediation is what one top Woodland Hills family law firm calls, “the no court” approach to ending a marriage. By choosing Collaborative-Mediation, clients allow attorneys to assist them in resolving conflict by using cooperative techniques and respectful negotiation rather than adversarial strategies and costly litigation. Collaboration is specifically aimed at minimizing the hurt and anger that has become prevalent in today’s family courts, according to Leon F. Bennett, a leading divorce attorney in Woodland Hills, California. 

In this alternative form of dispute resolution, both parties are represented by lawyers. But there are also other experts that may be called upon to weigh in on specific matters like finances and a child or the children’s positions.

These additional experts help shed light upon any disagreements of any specific topic and help guide toward a reasonable resolution. These experts differ depending on the given situation but typically include two divorce coaches, one neutral financial analyst and a child specialist if there are minors involved with the married parties. 

Statistics show that Collaborative-Mediation is less expensive than Divorce Litigation. More importantly, the former spouses truly have a voice and control the outcome of the proceedings instead of leaving their fate in the hands of a judge. In this sense, Collaborative Divorce is an excellent solution.

How the Collaborative-Mediation Process Works

When a couple chooses the Collaborative-Mediation path, they enter into a written agreement not to go to court. This is known as a “Participation Agreement.” As part of this agreement, if an amicable settlement is not reached, then the attorneys and additional specialists will withdraw from the process and cannot participate in any ensuing litigation. 

So Collaborative-Mediation really puts the onus on the couple to carefully reach an end-game agreement as the option of starting over with new lawyers and the prospect of a court hearing on the outcome becomes intimidating, time-consuming and now even more expensive.  

Best of all with Collaborative-Mediation is that civil commitments are included in the nature of the proceedings to assure the core values of the process are maintained. Just a couple of examples include:

  • All communications during the process will be constructive and fair, and will not take advantage of any errors made by the other party.
  • The parties will act in their children’s best interest to promote the relationships between the children and the parties and to minimize any emotional damage to the children as a result of the separation.

These commitments establish the central message of the Collaborative approach and are put in place to help ensure neither side loses sight of what is truly important, respecting each other and providing the best possible future for themselves and any children in the family.

Aided by Collaborative trained professionals, parties will negotiate peacefully and come to terms on issues including child custody, child and spousal support, property rights, and other important aspects of dissolving a marriage. After all the necessary areas of the relationship are addressed, the parties will enter into a settlement agreement and the divorce will become finalized.

The benefit of the Collaborative-Mediation approach is that both parties remain in (hopefully) peaceful communication about the issues at hand with Family Law attorneys like Leon F. Bennett in Woodland Hills present only to help shed light on the details and navigate the confusing 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 support and child support

The Collaborative-Mediation approach is not for everyone. Again, it’s paramount that both parties commit to having constructive communication where verbal jostling doesn’t become a barrier to an effective process and resolution. In some cases, couples may opt for Divorce Mediation without the attorney-led Collaboration aspect. The differences between the two approaches are subtle, but different.

The Difference Between Divorce Mediation Versus Collaborative-Mediation

More than each of the other two paths to ending a marriage, Divorce Mediation may be the most congenial way for the parties to come together and discover the best path to divorce. In Divorce Mediation there is no judge, as in Divorce Litigation, but there also aren’t the ongoing presence of attorneys as the parties present their case before a neutral third party – the Mediator – who guides them through their issues in hopes of reaching a mutually suitable agreement. 

If a couple truly believes they are on the same page and have agreed upon solutions to the issues they face, then Mediation is generally the least formal, least costly and least time-consuming of the divorce processes. 

Collaborative-Mediation, on the other hand, is similar in theory to Divorce Meditation, but Collaborative-Mediation requires both parties to be represented by an attorney, whereas Mediation does not. 

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. These probably would be more difficult to come to a consensus in the standard Mediation-only avenue. 

By choosing collaboration, clients allow an experienced divorce attorney to assist them in resolving conflict by using cooperative techniques and respectful negotiation rather than adversarial strategies and costly litigation. 

Divorce is an extremely difficult time in anyone’s life. The ramifications of the decisions made throughout the process will affect each spouse for the rest of their lives. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of ending your marriage, it is crucial that you weigh all of your options before choosing which path to take.

The Collaborative-Mediation approach to divorce is the latest development in the family law field and it is gaining much popularity. By using this approach, participants can settle their issues more quickly and do so at a fraction of the traditional litigation cost.

Before you decide to take your divorce to court and litigate, it would be foolish not to ask yourself: “Is the Collaborative-Mediation approach right for me?”

About the Leon F. Bennett Family Law Firm

With over 35 years of experience as a divorce attorney in Woodland Hills, the Family Law Firm of Leon F. Bennett and his seasoned legal team have helped families reach mutually agreeable decisions regarding matters of divorce, custody, support, and the many rights and agreements associated with family law services. We offer a free first-time consultation to qualified candidates.

We handle cases of Collaborative-Mediation in Southern California and the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Orange County areas. We represent clients in communities such as Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Camarillo, Moorpark, Oxnard, Pacific Palisades, Ventura County, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Northridge, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Contact us today to help find a suitable family law solution with compassion and closure.