Mediation Vs. Collaborative Law

Mediation Or Collaborative Family Law Which is Right for You?

In Pennsylvania there are multiple ways to dissolve a marriage today. No longer are all divorces long and drawn out legal battles that can cripple the soon to be ex-couple financially. Many Philadelphia and New Jersey couples contemplate between utilizing the collaborative family law approach or mediation to promptly resolve their divorce disputes. Though both options allow couples to decide how to best resolve any pending issues, mediation is the more reasonable approach to utilize. Read on to learn more.

If you live in the Philadelphia area or Southern New Jersey and are considering divorce please contact the family law attorneys at The Law Office of Erik B. Jensen today for a free initial consultation. Dial (215) 546-4700 today. After hours dial (888) 551-7149.

What is Mediation?

Many couples now use mediators to help resolve their disputes and work out all agreements related to the divorce such as
child custody,child support and spousal support. This is all done without the court’s oversight. Mediation allows a divorcing couple to use a neutral party to help bring them together in a controlled environment while negotiating the terms of their case, which may include child support, custody and visitation, alimony, and property division.

The mediator is present to help the couple reach an agreement and does not make any decisions for the couple. Further the mediator does not provide legal advice to either party.

How Does Family Law Mediation Work?

Both parties negotiate directly with each other regarding the terms of their divorce when taking the mediation approach. Some parties prefer to have their attorney present during mediation, but some mediators advise against it. It is always a wise move to have an attorney serve as your divorce mediation. This will ensure that all interests and rights are protected.

Prior to attending mediation, each party will call the mediator and provide background information about the marriage and any pending divorce issues. Upon attending the first meeting, the mediator will explain what you can expect throughout the process and what to expect from him/her.

Once an agreement is reached, the mediator, or the party’s attorney, will draft a marital settlement agreement. Upon final execution, the marital settlement agreement will be attached to the final judgment.

What is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative family law, which is often referred to as collaborative law, enables divorcing couples to work together and discuss, negotiate, and agree to the terms of their marital dissolution without the court intervening or being involved.

Collaborative law is a very cost effective and time saving approach that allows individuals to reach an agreement regarding the dissolution of their marriage that best suits their needs.

Before starting the collaborative law process, each spouse must sign a written pledge stating that they will not litigate any marital disputes in court and act in good faith while exchanging information during the negotiation process.

How Does the Collaborative Family Law Approach Work?

Prior to signing the initial agreement to commence the collaborative law process, each party must retain counsel trained in collaborative law (each party must be represented by counsel throughout all stages of the negotiations). The parties will sign an agreement that states the terms that will govern the process, such as the type of experts that will be hired, and how costs will be allocated.

Once the initial agreement is executed between the parties, each party will have time to meet with their attorney to discuss the terms of the marital settlement agreement. It is the attorney’s duty to focus on how the party can resolve his/her issue in the most civil matter.

The attorneys will schedule times to meet in order for all parties to come together and negotiate any contested terms. In the event an agreement is not reached, each party will retain new counsel and start the divorce process all over again. If the parties reach a final agreement, it will be drafted into a marital settlement agreement, executed, and included in the final judgment.

Which One is Right for You?

Mediation and the collaborative law approach are great legal tools to utilize for a divorcing couple to reach an agreement regarding the dissolution of their marriage without the assistance of the court.

Under most circumstances, mediation is more affordable that collaborative law. This is in large part due to the legal fees of attorneys during the collaborative law approach. As mentioned above, couples that utilize mediation can choose to obtain counsel, or go through the process unrepresented until a marital settlement agreement is reached.

Further, because mediators are often used during the collaborative law approach when the couples cannot reach an agreement, it is usually the best initial course to take.

If you are considering using a mediator or the collaborative law approach, contact our office for guidance. Our Philadelphia divorce mediation attorneys can review your case and recommend the appropriate course of action to take on your behalf. Dial (215) 546-4700 for a free initial consultation. We serve the greater Philadelphia including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and Southern New Jersey.