Process Options Comparison Chart

How does the Collaborative Process compare to other separation and divorce approaches?

Litigation/Court
Mediation
Collaborative Process
Who is in control?
Judge or Arbitrator decides the outcome based on the law and the facts. Process is determined by court rules.
The law must be followed, regardless of what the parties want. If all issues are not resolved, it will lead to more steps in the court process.
The Parties decide what is important to them and how to proceed, based on their lives and needs.
Any resulting agreement will be enforceable, but the parties take ownership in the agreement which often prevents future disagreements.
The Parties decide what is important to them and how to proceed, based on their lives and needs.
Any resulting agreement will be enforceable, but the parties take ownership in the agreement which often prevents future disagreements.
How is time managed?
Driven by the court rules, law, court schedule. Can take years to go to trial.
Settlement discussions can be bogged down by court process.
Driven by the parties needs and availability.
Driven by the parties needs and availability.
How do lawyers operate?
Adversarial, focused on trial, goal of winning
Sometimes adversarial, sometimes focused on reaching resolution
Only focus is to help the parties reach an agreement which meets their needs and can last
How are experts involved?
Experts are retained and paid for by each party. Experts are focused on presenting the case of the party who hired them
Can be like the court process or like the Collaborative Process.
Any expert is hired by both parties jointly to help the parties arrive at an agreement.  Often, the parties agree to split the cost.
What impacts costs?
Can quickly rise and result in depletion of assets or accrual of debt
Can be managed as the parties maintain control over the process. Often costs less than litigation.
Can be managed as the parties maintain control over the process. Often costs less than litigation.
How do the parties communicate?
Often communication between parties stops or becomes hostile.  Often neither party feels “heard” by the other or the judge.
Parties must communicate. Although parties may have a hard time communicating, the process can help them learn to communicate in a healthier and more productive manner.
Parties must communicate, and lawyers can assist. Although parties may have a hard time communicating, the process can help them learn to communicate in a healthier and more productive manner.
Is there a threat of Litigation?
Constant as the process has already begun. Filing additional court motions keeps the matter before the court.
Either party can stop mediation at any time. Either party can use litigation to resolve the dispute.
Parties and lawyers sign an agreement requiring them to retain new lawyers if they want to quit the process and go to court. Parties and lawyers are invested in the process and the threat of litigation is removed, paving the way for a mutual resolution.