By Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq., 301.563.6685
One of the most common questions I get asked is what is the difference in resolving my divorce through mediation compared to collaborative law.
What is Mediation?
In mediation, the parties will meet with a neutral third-party mediator, and the parties may or may not have their attorneys present. Mediation differs from collaboration in that mediation is still done through a legal court process. Often, the court will order divorcing parties to mediation to try and have the parties reach some resolutions, even if the parties cannot resolve all issues between them. Procedurally, each party may meet with the mediator separately to discuss the problems and their ideal resolution. They may each submit a confidential mediation statement that gives the mediator insight into their positions on the issues that need to be addressed. The mediator’s role is to remain neutral and act as an intermediary between the parties. Ultimately, it is up to each party whether or not they want to settle some or all of their issues.
Essentially, mediation is a process of using a neutral professional in helping the parties find some middle ground and settle their conflict.
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is another method of resolving conflict without going to Court.
Each party hires their own attorney that has been trained in the area of collaborative law. The parties meet together with both attorneys, and together as a unit, they work out the issues between them, with both parties being able to hear and understand the impact that their decisions have on each other and their family.
A unique element of the collaborative practice is that each attorney is barred from representing either party in court if the collaborative process fails. This allows the parties to give full disclosure and gives the parties a strong incentive to settle, which is paramount to the success of the collaborative process.
The collaborative process allows parties to avoid costly discovery through a complete and mutual exchange of all documents and information relating to all assets and property that the parties need to resolve.
Additionally, the parties can address any emotional aspect of their divorce. As part of the process, most parties agree to protect their children from the impact of their divorce and begin to establish successful and positive approaches to co-parenting that benefit their family unit and lessen the impact of the divorce upon their children.
Another unique element of the collaborative process is that collaborative law allows parties to put a team of professionals in place to assist them with all the financial decisions that need to be made and worked out to avoid the parties going into debt because of their divorce. It is common for a team to be built for the parties that involve financial advisors to help the parties with budgets so that each party can pay for their respective homes and therapists to assist the parties in co-parenting and the children with the emotions that can occur from parents divorcing.
The collaborative process’s primary goal is to reach a resolution that is advantageous for each party and eliminates the need for any court intervention either from the onset or later for modifications and appeals.
Either Mediation or Collaborative Law Can Keep Your Divorce Out of Court
The success of mediation and collaboration requires the parties to be willing and wanting to engage in the process and reach a resolution. There are times when parties aren’t willing or able to do that, and therefore, they would end up in court. However, I strongly encourage my clients to engage in either mediation or collaboration. I have extensive training in both processes to ensure my clients obtain their divorce while meeting their goals.
For more information about using mediation or collaborative law to resolve your divorce or custody matters, please contact me at 301-563-6685.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685