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Divorce litigation is fundamentally adversarial, pitting one spouse against the other in a process that leaves the outcome to state law and the court’s discretion.

In addition to creating emotional and financial anxiety for both ex-partners, contentious court disputes often end in a resolution that neither party finds acceptable. When a divorce involves children or complex financial issues, an undesirable judgment may lead to consequences that last a lifetime. 

Mediated and collaborative divorce are two forms of alternative dispute resolution that may be preferable for spouses who can agree to negotiate rather than litigate their separation. 

What is the difference between mediation and collaboration?

In both mediated and collaborative divorce, both parties must agree to work together constructively to resolve issues and agree not to pursue litigation. 

Mediation involves couples meeting with a third-party advisor trained to help separating spouses settle issues ranging from property division and alimony to custody and visitation arrangements. 

Under a collaborative approach, each spouse retains their own attorney, and both attorneys and both spouses agree to work together to negotiate a settlement outside of court. 

What are the advantages of a mediated or collaborative divorce?

These alternatives are not right for every divorce. However, when separating partners agree to negotiate reasonably, both collaboration and mediation may offer many benefits. 

As opposed to the often steep costs, unforgiving deadlines, publicity and uncertain judgments involved in litigation, negotiation may allow parties to develop creative solutions on their own schedule and on their own terms.