How do collaboration and mediation work in family law?

Collaborative law and mediation are two common uncontested divorce options. These methods may allow couples to end a marriage smoothly and cost-effectively.

Couples who are planning a divorce may not realize that they have options other than going to trial. If the parties are willing and able to cooperate and negotiate with each other in good faith, resolving their differences through mediation or even the collaborative divorce process may warrant considerations. Many divorcing spouses in Texas and elsewhere are realizing the numerous benefits of these forms of-alternative dispute resolution. It is important to understand the differences in these methods, as well as the limitations of each, before making a decision on which option to go with.

Collaborative law - an option for those with complex disputes

Couples who have complicated divorce issues, but who wish to resolve these disputes outside of court, may opt for the collaborative divorce process. According to U.S. News & World Report, collaborative law is often effective for those with complex property division or child custody matters. This form of alternative dispute resolution involves both spouses' attorneys and can also include other professionals to assist in negotiating solutions. During the collaborative divorce process, the parties - including attorneys - agree not to litigate. If an agreement cannot be reached, the attorneys are disqualified and must withdraw (subject to certain exceptions). The parties must retain new attorneys to go to court. This non-litigation commitment may provide the commitment necessary to resolve disputes outside of court. On the other hand, the requirement that the parties must start with new attorneys if the collaborative process fails sometimes puts tremendous pressure on one or both of them to settle for something they really may not agree with. Any agreement that one can reach in the collaborative process may also be reached in the traditional process, with the court available to solve problems or correct bad behavior if needed.

Mediation - finding solutions through mutual cooperation and respect

According to the American Bar Association, mediation is a dispute resolution method that involves a neutral third party who assists each spouse-in reaching an agreement during the mediation discussions. The mediator may suggest possible solutions that both spouses can agree upon, such as parenting arrangements and asset division. Mediation may be beneficial when both spouses can treat each other civilly and be open-minded and willing to negotiate in good faith.

Common benefits of alternative dispute resolution

There can be many benefits to participating in a successful alternative dispute resolution process. Mediation or collaborative law may cost less than a litigated divorce and often take less time. Couples who are willing and able to cooperate and negotiate with each other in good faith may learn effective ways to communicate and compromise, which may be especially beneficial when co-parenting children. However, it is important to realize that not every divorcing couple is suited for an alternative dispute resolution option. In marriages where domestic violence or substance abuse are factors, for example, litigation may be the only option. This may also be true if one spouse is intimidated by the other or is at a financial disadvantage.

No divorce is identical, and one type may not be suitable for every couple. Divorcing couples may wish to speak with an experienced family law attorney in Dallas to discuss the different types of divorce options, in order to decide what might be best for their situation.