Collaborative Law vs. Mediation

What is the difference between Collaborative Law and mediation?

In mediation, there is one qualified neutral third party (typically an attorney) who assists the parties in negotiating a settlement of their case. The mediator does not represent either party to the dispute and cannot give either party legal advice, nor can the mediator advocate for either party's position. If either party becomes unreasonable or stubborn, is emotionally distraught or unable to negotiate, the mediation process can be interrupted. A mediator may attempt to intervene to help the process resume, but if the mediator is unsuccessful, mediation can break down, or a negotiated agreement may be unbalanced. If the parties are represented by attorneys, their presence may actually contribute to the difficulties in the mediation, or their advice may come too late to be helpful.

Collaborative Law is an option to deal more effectively with potential problems for parties who may not be as prepared for mediation. While maintaining the same absolute commitment to settlement as the sole agenda, each party has quality legal advice and advocacy built in at all times during the process. Even if either party lacks negotiating skill, or is emotionally upset or angry, the process is equalized by the presence of the skilled advocates. It is the responsibility of the attorneys to encourage their clients to be reasonable to make sure that the process stays positive and productive.

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