Traditional mediation in family law relies on a couple to reach agreement on key issues with the help of a mediator. While a trained mediator is often an attorney, he or she does not represent either party and instead attempts to guide them to a mutually agreeable resolution on key issues.
In some cases, a judge may require mediation of outstanding issues as a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution. The court recognizes the best dispute resolutions, and the agreements most likely to be followed long-term, are ones that are reached by the parties. However, if no agreement is reached, the issues will proceed to litigation.
Mediation is a confidential and collaborative process. Professional mediators can help facilitate communication, assist parties in assessing their options, and clarify areas of agreement or disagreement. However, mediators do not force a solution; they only attempt to assist parties in resolving their differences.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation
In a collaborative divorce, both sides commit to reaching agreement on the key issues, with the help of their attorneys and other professionals, without relying upon litigation in front of a judge. While some Denver divorce lawyers quickly suggest litigation is the only solution, we believe that being involved in a legal proceeding should not be the same as being “at war.” The best divorce attorneys work to keep the emotions out of the process to the greatest extent possible, while always advocating for the best possible outcome for their client.
That’s why a collaborative divorce or mediation can be superior to a litigated settlement. Unfortunately, divorcing parties too often see collaboration or mediation as a weaker alternative, or as an option only for those parties who still maintain a good working relationship and already agree on most of the issues.
Neither is true. In fact, except in cases of domestic violence or other serious issues, collaborative divorce or voluntary mediation can offer many advantages, including privacy, more control over the process and outcome, less cost, and an agreed upon outcome rather than solutions imposed by the court.
In other words, for many of the same reasons the court may order mediation or other alternative dispute resolutions, voluntary mediation or collaborative divorce can be the best option for couples. The reality is that divorces must be collaborative, to the greatest extent possible, to obtain a final workable agreement in the interest of all parties, including the children. Couples who avoid collaboration or mediation, only to find themselves in court-ordered sessions to resolve differences, often reach this understanding too late in the process to realize all of the benefits of a voluntary collaborative or mediated divorce.
Key differences between mediation and collaborative divorce include:
- Each spouse has an experienced divorce attorney during the collaborative divorce process. In mediation, while the mediator may be an attorney, he or she does not advocate for either side.
- Collaborative attorneys can be more involved, whereas a mediator only meets with the parties during assigned sessions.
- A mediator is focused on resolving outstanding issues, whereas your collaborative divorce lawyer is always focused on getting you the best deal possible.
Experienced family law mediators and divorce lawyers in Denver recognize the uniqueness of each family’s issues, whether divorce, child custody, support, or division of assets. When parties can reach agreements on their own, the end result is more likely to be more satisfactory to all involved, as well as faster and more cost effective.
Contact Littman Family Law and Mediation Services at 303-832-4200 for a confidential consultation.