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If You Choose Collaborative Law or Mediation
How to Divorce

Collaborative Law, or mediation, is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which allows both parties to avoid going to court.

In the process of Collaborative Law each spouse hires an attorney and all 4 individuals sign a "Collaborative Law Participation Agreement". By signing this agreement each spouse agrees to participate in coming to a divorce resolution- avoiding the high costs of going to court. This type of ADR has been found to keep divorce civil, cooperative, and can even speed up the divorce process, as you are not at the mercy of the court's schedule. Another benefit to choosing Collaborative Law is that because you and your spouse are able to work together on an agreement, there tends to be a greater chance that you will both follow through.

Collaborative law, unlike mediation and arbitration, provides you with trained legal counsel, without the court costs. A divorce handled in court can run $20,000 and up, where as the costs involved with collaborative law average $2,000-$3,000.

Here are the facts:

  • Not every lawyer can practice Collaborative law. Collaborative lawyers are trained in collaborative, non-combative resolution techniques.
  • You and your lawyer and your spouse and their lawyer must sign a "Collaborative Law Participation Agreement". This 5 page document lays out, for all parties involved, how the divorce will proceed. Once signed, you are all bound to create an agreeable and legally binding agreement without going to court.
  • Part of the "participation agreement" stipulates that if you are unable to come to an agreement you will not be allowed to retain your same attorney when taking your case to court. This aspect of the agreement provides strong encouragement for both parties to work hard at "working it out".
  • Outside professionals such as mediators or non-collaborative lawyers are allowed in the negotiations, however, their participation must be pre-approved by all parties involved and they must agree to not threaten to go to court.
  • Because you are not waiting for the court to schedule hearings, you create the time line for your divorce.
  • Your divorce, as in mediation and arbitration, is kept out of the public realm unlike taking your divorce to court.
  • Collaborative law creates a "team" atmosphere from day one, compared to the adversarial atmosphere of the courtroom.

To learn more about Collaborative Law visit the following websites:

Collaborativelaw.com, Nocourtdivorce.com, Divorceservice.com (Canadian)