Why would you choose mediation over collaborative divorce?

A recent article draws interesting insights about the alternatives available to divorcing couples, from self-help resources to traditional litigation to alternative approaches like mediation or collaborative divorce. In this two-part series, we’ll take a closer look at each option.

As an attorney that has helped many individuals through the complexities and often emotionally charged event of a divorce, I know that each couple’s situation is unique. However, the one conclusion by the article’s author that I do unequivocally agree with is that couples should not attempt a divorce completely on their own. While reducing costs is a worthwhile goal, there are safer ways to accomplish this objective while still protecting one’s interests.

True, online resources are available that can help a couple begin settlement discussions on issues of support and property division. However, I would recommend that a couple has an attorney review any proposals before presenting them to a divorce court. Without an attorney’s insight and experience, there is a substantial risk that issues may be overlooked. Thus, to the extent that a do-it-yourself divorce is one of four choices, I would advise against it.

Litigating a divorce is also an option that I would not recommend without a few qualifications. In litigation, the timetable for the exchange of information by the parties provided by the discovery phase of the case can be useful when one party suspects that the other might be concealing information. Having to produce evidence or disclose financial or other information under oath can help get all of the cards on the table. Yet I would urge parties in litigation to still engage in settlement discussions outside of the courtroom. Any agreements that can be resolved in this manner will reduce both court time and costs. In our next post, we'll continue the discussion with mediation and collaborative divorce.

Source: Forbes, "The Four Divorce Alternatives," Jeff Landers, April 24, 2012