Mediation or Collaborative Law?

Mediation and collaborative law are two types of alternative dispute resolution processes with a highly important similarity — the goal of amicable resolution.

The mediation process commences with the parties involved hiring a mediator to assist them in reaching their goal of settlement. The mediator does not represent either party. The parties each have their respective counsel should he or she choose to be represented. The mediator commonly advises the parties to have his or her counsel review any agreement reached. At times, attorneys attend the mediation session. It is common for the parties to attend without counsel and contact his or her attorney during the session, before and/or after the sessions, with any questions and/or concerns to discuss. One of the attorneys will prepare the appropriate agreement if resolution is reached. In mediation, the case can be discussed globally or issue by issue, during the meetings.  In mediation, if negotiations breakdown, the attorneys can represent the client through litigation. Commonly mediated issues include parenting plan terms, child support, division of marital property, and spousal support.

The collaborative law process is a process where the parties agree not to proceed through court. A participation agreement is entered into by the parties, counsel and neutral team members. The decisive factor behind a collaborative law process case is if negotiations break down and the case proceeds through traditional litigation, both counsel are barred from representing the client in court. This agreement creates high motivation for all invested in the process to put forth the utmost good faith effort to reach the client’s interest-based goals and avoid a breakdown of negotiations.

In the collaborative law process, an agenda is prepared before each meeting and agreed upon as to the issues/areas to discuss. It is important not to steer from the agenda as much as possible. The team works together to remain on track. The team, at minimum, consists of the parties and counsel who are trained in collaborative law. The team may also consist of neutral financial and mental health professionals, and at times a child specialist. The agenda, for example, can be to discuss who retains the marital residence as well as the payments of certain expenses in the interim as the collaborative process continues through resolution. The meetings typically last two hours per session; although, the preference of the parties and each case will determine if the meetings are two hours, a full day, weeks in between or months in between. The process moves at the preferred speed of the parties.

Considering the above process differences may assist in determining the alternative resolution process for you. Contact the family law attorneys trained in collaborative law and mediation at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC to discuss your particular situation. Fill our our online contact form or call us today at (412) 471-9000.

About the Author

A senior associate at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, Stephanie L. Jablon holds a dual certification in mediation and collaborative law and works to swiftly resolve cases amicably for her clients. Stephanie is a case note author and has presented legal education workshops and lectures.

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