As Ohio divorce attorneys, we are often asked: What is the difference between collaborative divorce and mediation? As it turns out, the two are significantly different even though both have a similar agenda. What is that agenda? Both attempt to resolve the often contentious process of divorce in an amicable way that has the best interests of all parties at heart.

For a long time, mediation was one option that divorcing couples had while a contested divorce was on the opposite end of the spectrum. There was no middle ground. Either both parties came together and had their divorce mediated by a lawyer who represented them both, or the two each got their own lawyer and duked it out in court.

Why was there was no middle ground?

That was precisely the problem. There was nothing that offered the amiability of mediation with the guidance of having your own counsel. Thus collaborative divorce was born.

Understanding Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is used in a number of situations effectively. Drug courts, for instance, tend to utilize collaborative approaches to law. Those in drug court are asked to sign a contract and keep up with their treatment in contemplation of the dismissal of their charges. The prosecution and the defense work together with the judge and the defendant in order to come to a resolution that is in both the best interests of the defendant and the state.

In a similar vein, collaborative divorce works much the same way. In contrast to mediation, each party has his or her own counsel. All the parties come together and sign a contract that states that they are all committing to the collaborative divorce process. That means no threatening litigation. If one party tries to leverage the other by threatening to sue, the process breaks down completely and goes into litigation. In addition, if one party is caught hiding money or assets from the other, that will cause the collaborative process to break down and enter litigation.

The purpose of collaborative divorce is for both parties to come to an amicable agreement that benefits themselves and their children. Not only are lawyers present for the process, but childcare specialists and financial advisors are, as well. Each party discusses what he or she wants for the future and comes to compromises and agreements that make for a smooth transition into divorced life.

Contested Divorce vs. Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

It is important to realize that no matter how badly you want a smooth transition, there are some instances in which collaborative divorce or mediation are not appropriate. Nonetheless, when two spouses who shared equal power in a relationship decide to split up, they ultimately have more power over the outcome when they choose mediation or collaborative divorce.

If you have any questions about which option is best for your marriage, contact the family law specialists at Comunale Law and we can begin discussing your situation today.