Blogs from March, 2022

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Divorce Mediation vs Collaborative Divorce


There are two main alternatives to a court-litigated divorce: divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Both methods share the goal of keeping the divorcing couple out of the courtroom, which ultimately makes the divorce cheaper, faster, and mutually beneficial to both parties.

However, there are many differences between mediation and collaborative divorce. The following is an overview of both divorce methods to determine which is best for your circumstances and situation.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is a cooperative divorce method whereby an unbiased third party (the mediator) helps the couple reach a mutual final agreement. The mediator is a professional—often an attorney, therapist, or counselor—who is a neutral facilitator, guiding the couple through complex legal, financial, and logistical issues related to their divorce.

Through a series of private sessions, the mediator encourages communication between the spouses and brings options to the table to help them create customized solutions that fulfill each of their needs. The mediator can also draft the final agreement, which can later be reviewed by each spouse’s lawyer.

The following are the key features of divorce mediation:

  1. Less time-consuming compared to court litigation

  2. Less costly than court litigation

  3. Flexible

  4. Informal

  5. The mediator does not decide the case

If the spouses cannot reach an agreement through mediation, they may either start the process all over again or proceed to court litigation. Also, it is possible they may seek a collaborative divorce.

Collaborative Divorce

Also known as the “collaborative law process,” collaborative divorce is essentially a hybrid of divorce mediation and traditional divorce. Each party hires their own collaborative divorce lawyer—who is trained in collaborative law—to represent them.

Similar to traditional divorce, an attorney’s goal is to obtain the best possible outcome for their one client. A series of meetings are held in a law office with both spouses and their respective collaborative lawyers, as well as other professionals (e.g., accountants, child specialists, etc.).

The key features of a collaborative divorce include:

  1. More efficient compared to court litigation

  2. Less costly than court litigation

  3. Flexible

  4. Informal

  5. Spouses negotiate in “four-way” meetings

  6. Spouses and lawyers sign a “no court” agreement

If the couple cannot reach an agreement, the two collaborative attorneys will withdraw from the case. If the spouses wish to restart the collaborative divorce process, each of them must hire a new lawyer.

If you are interested in filing for a divorce in Des Moines, IA, call The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw at (515) 200-7571 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team has nearly two decades of legal experience!