Is mediation the same as collaborative divorce?

Mediation and collaborative divorce are both methods of alternative dispute resolution, but they are not the same.  

It might be helpful to think of collaborative divorce as the middle point between mediation and all-out litigation.

In mediation, the spouses work with a neutral mediator to resolve all issues and draft a divorce settlement that can be submitted to the court.

In collaborative divorce, the divorcing spouses agree to develop a divorce settlement outside of court, but each party hires his or her own team to assist in the negotiations. The collaborative divorce team often consists of an attorney and a therapist. Sometimes, a neutral financial planner or child psychologist will be brought in to assist with specific issues.

For divorcing couples who wish to avoid the expense of litigation, both mediation and collaborative divorce are good options. Collaborative divorce is often needed when a power imbalance or trust issue exists in the relationship.  

It should be noted that since more professionals are involved in a collaborative divorce, there is an increased cost involved. Professionals need to be paid by the divorcing parties as part of the process; divorce mediation generally just involves the divorce mediator.

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