Mediation is a process in which the parties work with a mediator to reach an agreement with respect to the issues arising from the breakdown of the relationship. A mediator is a neutral party who works with the parties, often with their legal counsel, to help resolve disputes without going to court or without a continuation of outstanding litigation. Parties may mediate their issues either before or after court proceedings have started.
Collaborative Law is a process in which the parties, their lawyers, and in some situations also counselors, child specialists or financial advisors, work together to resolve both the emotional and legal issues arising from the breakdown of the relationship. Before commencing the collaborative law process, the parties must enter into a signed participation agreement with each other and their respective counsel.
Many couples who separate wish to resolve their family matters outside of the court system. Mediation and collaborative law are some of the alternative dispute resolution approaches available to parties who prefer to negotiate settlements out of the court process. In some cases, parties choose to mediate and settle their dispute after a legal proceeding has been commenced.
Parties who wish to mediate often choose to do so, as the mediation process generally gives parties more privacy, more control over the outcomes, can lessen the costs associated with divorce and separation and often results in less stress on both the parties and any children the parties may have.
Mediation and the collaborative law process may also give parties the chance to settle issues in a more timely fashion and may offer parties a greater chance at preserving relationships with each other, especially where children are involved.