Choosing between mediation and collaborative divorce is a highly personal decision that depends on the unique circumstances of your situation, and your preferences. The best Divorce Attorney will be able to help you decide which process is right for your case and guide you through the process.
Beth M. Appelsmith serves clients throughout Sacramento, California, and the surrounding areas, providing legal assistance with divorce, separation, premarital and postmarital agreements, child custody and visitation, and other family law matters. She has more than 25 years of experience and is a member of the Sacramento Collaborative Divorce Group.
If you and your spouse can communicate openly and cooperatively, collaborative divorce may be the best option for you. This nonadversarial process prioritizes mutually beneficial solutions that both parties can agree on and avoids the contentious nature of traditional litigation. Using this approach can also save you time and money as compared to a contested divorce.
Collaborative divorce involves four-way conferences and negotiation between both parties and sometimes includes the involvement of neutral professionals, such as financial planners or accountants. If needed, a professional mediator can also be brought in to help facilitate the negotiations. The length of time that it takes to resolve all issues in a collaborative divorce depends on the cooperation between you and your spouse, as well as how involved outside professionals are in the process. It can take longer than a divorce through litigation, but it is usually less expensive than traditional divorce proceedings.
While there are many benefits to collaborative divorce, it is not appropriate for all situations. For example, if you have concerns about your spouse’s ability to make decisions in their own best interest (because of alcoholism or neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease), it is important that you discuss these with a qualified divorce lawyer. It is also a good idea to hire a Divorce Attorney if there is a risk of domestic violence or if there is a restraining order in place against you or your spouse.
The best Divorce Attorney will be a good communicator who understands your needs, priorities and concerns. He or she should be available via phone and email to address any concerns you have, as well as answer your questions, even outside of your scheduled appointments. This is especially important if you and your spouse are facing complex issues, such as marital property division or child custody.
A divorce mediation attorney must be prepared to work with both sides to reach a settlement, but cannot continue representing either client if the case goes to trial because it is against professional ethics. The same is true for a collaborative divorce attorney. However, a collaborative divorce attorney can provide the added benefit of addressing emotional and mental issues that are often related to the high conflict nature of a litigated divorce. This can be particularly helpful for couples who are planning to co-parent together after their divorce. This can also help reduce the stress of a highly contentious divorce, which in turn can benefit the children involved.