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Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce and mediation enable couples to dissolve their relationship in a flexible manner that avoids going to court altogether.
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Collaborative Divorce and Mediation Lawyers

Key Takeaways

  • Collaborative divorce and mediation are two alternatives to consider in lieu of going through a long, drawn-out, and expensive divorce court process.
  • Collaborative divorces are good-faith negotiations enabling couples to settle divorce terms relating to child custody, alimony, child support, and property division.
  • Mediation is a dispute process in which a third party facilitates discussions between a couple to resolve points of contention and help them reach agreeable terms, avoiding the court process.
  • Each alternative divorce approach involves pros and cons, and it’s important to evaluate what’s best for your situation.
  • A skilled collaborative divorce and mediation attorney can help you choose the best option for you and your family.
A hand connects two puzzle pieces, one with a handshake icon and the other with a person icon, between two unconnected person-icon pieces, against a gray background.

If you are getting divorced, there are alternatives to the litigation process. For many couples, it makes sense to pursue collaborative divorce or mediation for problem-solving in key issues.

Collaborative divorce and mediation enable couples to dissolve their relationship in a flexible manner that avoids a contested trial. Also, these methods tend to be much less adversarial and often much less expensive than traditional divorce litigation, which can be especially important if you and your spouse share children and are going to continue a relationship as co-parents.

Cordell & Cordell offers both mediation and collaborative divorce services in the firm’s Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Milwaukee offices and mediation services in its Hartford office. Continue reading to learn more about how collaborative divorce and mediation differ from the traditional litigation process and determine whether these alternatives make sense for you to pursue.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

two individuals shaking hands with a gavel in focus

The collaborative process allows couples to negotiate the terms of a divorce through a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Each spouse retains their own collaborative divorce attorney to assist with the negotiation process. Each spouse will still meet with their own attorney privately to discuss the terms they are willing to agree to and inform them of their limits and issues on which they are unwilling to bend.

From there, each party will come together for a four-way meeting to hash out the negotiation. These negotiations can sometimes include other party-neutral professionals, such as child custody specialists and accountants. If the discussion breaks down, a licensed mediator can also be brought in to help guide the parties to an agreement.

Since collaborative divorce requires that each party act in good faith, this method is best suited to couples splitting without much animosity toward one another.

What is Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third-party mediator assists the couple in resolving their issues and coming to a divorce agreement without the need for litigation.

A divorce mediator doesn’t help either party make decisions or offer legal advice but serves as a facilitator to help the couple figure out what arrangement is right for their situation.

Like collaborative divorce, mediation enables couples to navigate the issues with more control over the outcome and reach a resolution that typically comes much quicker than the traditional litigation process and at a cheaper cost.

Pros and Cons of Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

Many divorcing couples find viable alternatives to “traditional” divorce, but each option has its benefits and drawbacks. You should carefully evaluate all options and choose the process that best aligns with your situation. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both mediation and collaborative divorces.

Mediation

Pros:

  • Faster resolutions for all terms of the divorce
  • Less expensive than court proceedings and lawyer-to-lawyer negotiations
  • Usually involves less stress
  • Work with neutral experts
  • Typically is a civil and amicable environment
  • Agreements reached in mediation are as legally binding (if terms are agreed upon) and incorporated into a court order.

Cons:

  • Mediation only works if couples are communicative and can have civil discussions; if not, mediation only prolongs the inevitable court appearances.
  • Couples settling things without the help of a mediator might find instead working together with their attorneys as the easier solution.
  • Mediators cannot provide legal advice or act as lawyers.

Collaborative Divorce

Pros:

  • Less expensive than a traditional divorce process
  • Faster time to finalize a divorce in a private setting
  • No need for divorce court hearings, avoiding public litigated trials by working with collaborative divorce professionals
  • A high level of information sharing takes place, which means total transparency and no surprises or battles to obtain information.
  • Divorce settlement terms are more likely to be adhered to since both spouses agree, avoiding future modifications or other legal proceedings.
  • Decisions are made by spouses knowing what’s best for their family; court systems make decisions upon limited information given to them.

Cons:

  • Collaborative divorce proceedings aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s not appropriate for all couples (e.g., domestic violence or facing other legal issues)
  • If a collaborative divorce fails, you’ll have to begin traditional divorce proceedings, extending the entire process and essentially starting over.
  • Everything is transparent, so you lose out on targeted legal advice to things you’ve shared with your attorney in confidence.
  • Spouses afraid to speak freely might not receive a fair outcome.

How to Decide if Collaboration or Mediation Are Right For Your Divorce

two wedding bands set on top of a broken heart shape

Whether collaboration or mediation is appropriate in your divorce case will depend on several factors. The ability to openly communicate and willingness to work together is a must. In combative divorce situations, it’s difficult to overcome anger and find workable solutions.

Mediation is usually better for the party who has most of the knowledge about finances/assets. If a couple wants to avoid a trial and spend thoughtful time maintaining more control over the outcome of their case than if it went to trial, mediation is a better course of action. Mediation works best when voluntary, but even involuntary court-ordered mediation can work in some cases.

A collaborative divorce can be similar to mediation, but if it doesn’t work, the parties must hire new counsel and start the process all over again. The parties really need to be cooperative from the beginning and, if needed, be willing to consult a joint expert for use in putting together a settled decree.

Why Work With Cordell & Cordell

Cordell & Cordell is firmly committed to providing our clients with fair representation. We aren’t afraid to take cases to court when warranted and will actively fight any biases courts, judges, and society have against men. We are equipped to practice traditional (uncontested and contested), mediation, or collaborative law when it comes to divorce.

Some of our attorneys have completed additional training in areas such as divorce mediation and civil mediation. Many are members of their state’s professional mediators association. The associations and their official names are specific to each state. You can check with your local office to see if an attorney has the right qualifications.

Testimonials

“[My attorney] was great! My post-judgment situation was unnerving, but you all stepped in and did what was needed.” — Edward S.

“​Great communication. She advised in order for me to make the educated decision.” — Demarco J.

Work It Out Together With Cordell & Cordell

Cordell & Cordell’s family law attorneys can help represent you in the collaborative divorce process or serve as a third-party mediator, depending on the path you choose. With more than 30 years of experience, our divorce lawyers understand the issues men are likely to face in divorce and are committed to helping you reach an agreement that allows you to start the rest of your life on solid ground.

You want a collaborative lawyer who will listen to your story and champion what’s in the best interest of you and your children. Cordell & Cordell is here for you. To schedule a consultation, contact us at 866-DADS-LAW (323-7529) or use our online contact form, and a member of our team will respond to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce allows couples to negotiate the terms of a divorce through a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Each spouse retains their own collaborative divorce attorney to assist with the negotiation process. Each spouse will still meet with their own attorney privately to discuss the terms they are willing to agree to and inform them of their limits and issues they are unwilling to bend on.

From there, each party will come together for a four-way meeting to hash out the negotiation. These negotiations can sometimes include other party-neutral professionals such as child custody specialists and accountants. If there is a breakdown in the discussion, a licensed mediator also can be brought in to help guide the parties to an agreement.

Since collaborative divorce requires a good-faith negotiation from each party, this method is best suited to couples splitting without much animosity toward one another.

What is Mediation?

Divorce mediation is another alternative dispute resolution process where a third-party mediator works with the couple to resolve their issues and come to terms to a divorce agreement and avoid going to court.

A divorce mediator does not help either party make decisions or offer legal advice but serves as a facilitator to help the couple figure out what arrangement is right for their situation.

Like collaborative divorce, mediation enables couples to navigate the issues with more control over the outcome and reach a resolution that typically comes much quicker than the traditional litigation process and at a cheaper cost.

Frank Murphy

Edited By Frank Murphy

Chief Compliance Officer
Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy is the Chief Compliance Officer and an Executive Partner at Cordell & Cordell. His responsibilities include oversight of the Firm’s compliance with Legal and Ethical obligations as well as contributing to the day-to-day operations of the Firm as an Executive Partner.

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    Why Hire
    Cordell & Cordell?

    Men hire Cordell & Cordell because the firm’s entire focus is on aggressively championing the rights of men and fathers through divorce. Our attorneys understand how the deck is often stacked against guys in family law and are committed to leveling the playing field by providing the legal guidance and resources needed to give them a fair chance at success.