What are the differences between collaborative divorce and mediation?

Collaborative divorce and mediation are both alternative dispute resolution devices that attempt to remove the divorcing parties from the contentious and expensive process of contested litigation; both seek to have the parties and their divorce attorneys work toward an outcome they created, rather than an outcome mandated by the court. However, there are several differences between collaborative divorce and mediation:

  1. Parties involved in mediation do not have to fire their attorneys and switch counsel if the mediation process fails.
  2. The goal of the mediation process is to get the parties to “yes,” regardless of the fairness or legal rectitude of the agreed-upon outcome. The goal of the collaborative process is to treat everyone fairly and to create an outcome that achieves that goal.
  3. The mediator is, in effect, a facilitator, who cannot and does not give advice to the parties. The collaborative process, on the other hand, involves professional advice from the parties’ attorneys, as well as from neutral professionals, such as accountants, tax and financial advisers and mental health professionals.
  4. Mediation does not require a mutual expression of respect and commitment to courtesy. Mediation sessions, in fact, quite often involve a bit of “spleen venting” before achieving a successful result.