When many contemplate the idea of resolving their divorce or family law matter outside of court, mediation is what most think about. Mediation is popular. Mediation is well-known even if people do not totally understand how it works.
Many are not sure why they would think about collaborative practice when mediation seems like such a good option. Many do not understand the difference.
In mediation, parties sit down with a neutral mediator who is often an attorney. The mediator meets both parties often for multiple sessions. Topics like custody, support, property division and other issues are addressed. The hope is that a compromise can be reached.
The reality, however, is a mediator does not and cannot represent both parties. Thus, they cannot give legal advice.
A mediator cannot make parties settle, either. Many parties go to mediation, for example, and do not settle.
Further, a mediator cannot actually divorce parties. The parties will still need any agreement they enter to be approved in court by a judge. A mediator cannot appear in court get settlement paperwork approved. Instead, one or both of the parties normally need to hire an attorney to make sure that happens.
Certainly mediation can work for some parties. Mediation is also worth trying in many cases.
But in collaborative practice, both parties have their own lawyer trained in collaborative practice. These collaborative lawyers can give their clients legal advice. They are also present in collaborative sessions versus mediation where the parties often go alone. Further, they can present the settlement paperwork to the judge for approval.
In collaborative practice, there is also the added benefit of various experts who can help in areas of disagreement. For example, a divorce coach, financial neutral and child custody professional can all be enlisted to help the parties reach an agreement in cases where the parties would get hung up in mediation and not be able to settle.
While mediation can be a good option for some, collaborative practice is another option more should consider. If you are interested in knowing more about collaborative practice, you can contact the Missouri Collaborative Institute today.