It is becoming more common than ever for parties to a divorce action to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing any paperwork or stepping foot in a courthouse.
Often times parties to a divorce attempt to come to a resolution through the use of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties come to an agreement. The mediator does not represent either party, but instead works to guide the parties to a mutual agreement. Typically, clients do not have individual attorneys present at mediation sessions, but may consult with an independent attorney prior to signing off on any agreement.
A less common, but emerging, form of alternative dispute resolution is called Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law is similar to mediation in that the parties to a divorce action attempt to come to a resolution of all matters outside of court through the use of a specially trained lawyer who acts as a neutral third party; however, each party is typically represented by independent counsel, as well. The attorneys representing each spouse in a collaborative divorce agree from the outset to not participate in the litigation of a divorce if collaboration is unsuccessful.
In order to proceed with Collaborative Law, both parties must agree and retain collaboratively trained attorneys. Although each party has independent counsel, the costs of collaboration tend to be lower than the conventional litigated divorce.
Once an agreement is reached, the parties may then proceed with filing a Joint Petition for Divorce. A finalized agreement is submitted to the Court for approval in an uncontested hearing.
This blog post was written by Attorney Catherine Taylor and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.