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What is the difference between Mediation and Collaborative Law?

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If you’ve just made the decision to end your marriage, there’s no doubt it was probably one of the biggest and most difficult decisions you have ever made.

But now you have another important decision to make…how to actually get the divorce.

Although both mediation and collaboration are alternative methods of resolving issues between divorcing and separating couples, they differ considerably from each other.

All mediators are trained but some are Solicitors and others are not. Collaboratively trained lawyers are lawyers first and foremost but have been trained to make the shift away from the litigious process.

You may have heard mediation is more peaceful and cost effective, but you also want to know more about the collaborative divorce process.

So what is the difference between mediation and collaborative law?

What is Mediation?

Mediation involves a single, impartial and independent arbiter encouraging the clients to compromise their issues in a series of meetings. The Divorce Mediator will help you and your spouse identify and understand the relevant subjects that need to be addressed in your divorce so that informed decisions can be made by each of you.

What is Collaborative Law?

The collaborative process involves the parties and their own collaboratively trained solicitors, again in a series of meetings, to which other trained professionals can be invited – whether professional counsellors, accountants or independent financial advisers.

Like mediation, collaborative law utilises skilled dispute-resolution professionals who are committed to helping parties reach personally-tailored solutions to divorce-related disputes.

What is the difference between Collaborative Law and Mediation?

Both processes offer more control to the parties, enabling customised results in an altogether more civilised ways than in the divorce courts.

Collaborative lawyers function as active legal advisers and negotiators alongside their clients at the centre of the dispute resolution process, rather than on the sidelines. This could be an advantage over a Mediator, as Mediators act as simply a peacemaker and neutral third party, and cannot advise on any issues.

Which option is right for you?

As mentioned above, in mediation, clients cannot be advised by the mediator, which may cause difficulties. Often there is an imbalance of power in the clients’ relationship: one party may want to buy peace at any price, whilst the other dictates the outcome they wish to achieve.

In collaborative law, on the other hand, these structural weaknesses disappear because advice, representation and advocacy are at the core of the process. Two skilled legal advocates can go much further than a neutral mediator in seeing that the playing field is levelled. A Collaborative Lawyer has their client’s best interests at heart.

In the collaborative arena, both parties are represented by experienced family lawyers, neither of whom are expected to be neutral.

Arguably, the biggest potential downside of adopting a collaborative approach is that if it fails, both parties have to part company with their respective lawyers and start again. However, this often acts as an additional incentive to reach an agreement.

At Emery Johnson Astills, the Family Team do their upmost to reach settlements outside the Court process. If you are considering Collaborative Law, would like more information on this, or would like to book a first fixed fee appointment please contact the Family Team or Emma Mitchell, Partner (specialising in finance/divorce and trained collaborative lawyer) at  or 0116 2554855 and 01509 610312. More details can also be accessed through Resolution at