What are the differences between Mediation, Collaborative Practice and Litigation?
Litigation is to divorce what war is to international relations. It is an option of last resort which, by its very nature, causes damage and inflicts pain upon both sides — and often upon innocent bystanders. Yet, like war, it is sometimes necessary to prevent even greater harm in the long run.
Mediation and Collaborative Practice, in contrast, are two great non-adversarial ways for people to resolve differences and for people with different views of what is fair or needed to reach agreements that work for everyone involved.
The chart below highlights some of the typical differences between these three paths to ending a marriage.
|Focus||The needs of the clients and their children.
|The needs of the clients and their children.
|Deciding who is “right” and who “wins.”|
|Who Decides the Outcome||You do, with whatever help you need from experts and others.||You do, with whatever help you need from experts and others.||A judge.|
|Cost||Least expensive||More expensive||Most expensive|
|Time||Possibly a few weeks; often several months.||Possibly a few months; often longer.||Many months; sometimes years.|
|Role of Lawyers||Optional/as needed. Lawyer review of agreements is recommended.||You, your spouse and the lawyers share responsibility. The Lawyers are active throughout.||Lawyers are in charge, except when the judge is in charge.|
|Role of Judge||Not involved. Grants divorce after successful mediation.||Not involved. Grants divorce after successful collaboration.||Decides all contested issues through adversarial hearings and a public trial in court.|
|Communication Between Spouses||Encouraged – with help as needed.||Encouraged – with help as needed.||Discouraged.|
|Sharing of Information||Whatever is needed for you to make well-informed decisions.||Whatever is needed for you to make well-informed decisions.||Only what the law says must be shared.|
|Role of the Law||The law is one consideration. It does not dictate a specific answer to most issues.||The law is one consideration. It does not dictate a specific answer to most issues.||The law dominates. When the law does provide a single answer, the judge chooses an answer the law allows.|