At the Law Office of Lily L. Huang in California, we know that more and more of today’s couples prefer to end their marriages amicably rather than via a traditional litigated divorce. If you and your spouse fit that description, you should realize that you have two options: a mediated divorce and a collaborative divorce.
Greenbush Financial explains that mediation and collaboration both represent out-of-court processes by which you and your spouse negotiate with each other to resolve your own issues in a nonthreatening and cooperative atmosphere. They are, however, two separate processes with some distinct differences.
The major difference between mediation and collaboration has to do with attorney representation. If you and your spouse choose mediation, neither of you usually hires an attorney, although you both have the right to do so. Most couples choose to forgo hiring attorneys and instead hire a neutral mediator who represents neither of them. This mediator acts as your facilitator, guiding you through the negotiation process.
On the other hand, in a collaborative divorce, both you and your spouse start by retaining your own private respective attorney. These attorneys, nevertheless, do not consider themselves as adversaries, nor do they consider you and your spouse as adversaries. Rather, they see the four of you as reasonable adults meeting together to allow you and your spouse the opportunity to solve your own issues. Their roles are to protect their respective client’s rights and interests.
The other major difference between mediation and collaboration has to do with the compelling of information and the way in which that information can be used. A mediator has no authority to compel either you or your spouse to produce information or documents. Consequently, you both provide information on a voluntary basis. In addition, to borrow from a long-running TV commercial, “what happens in mediation stays in mediation.” In other words, mediation is completely confidential. Nothing either of you says can be used against you in court.
Conversely, the attorneys in a collaborative divorce can, if necessary, compel either or both of you to answer interrogatories or produce documents as in the standard discovery process. Should one of you fail to produce the requested information, the court can sanction you. Assuming, however, that both you and your spouse commit yourselves to a truly collaborative process, neither attorney will have to resort to such discovery tactics.
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