ADVANTAGES OF COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE & MEDIATED DIVORCE
Both methods afford the parties many benefits not available in divorce litigation:
- Only 1 brief court appearance
- Reduced conflict & stress
- Less costly than litigation
- More control over the outcome of your case
- Direct communication between the parties
- Voluntary process
- Considers all family members
When your mediated divorce or collaborative divorce process has been completed, your written agreement must be filed with the court for the judge's approval. The parties are present in court when the agreement is submitted to the judge. The appearance usually lasts approximately 30 minutes. In contrast, in an adversarial divorce, the parties typically spend many days in court for hearings and pretrials, and ultimately, a trial.
Because mediation and the collaborative law process value dignity and mutual respect and are far less adversarial than litigation, it is often easier to achieve agreement between the parties. Family disputes are often charged with emotional issues that interfere with the parties' ability to reach an agreement. With Attorney Martin’s legal experience and the therapeutic skills of a psychologist/coach, she is able to help the parties resolve their conflicts and move toward an agreement. In the mediation setting, Dr. Lucyk works with Attorney Martin and the couple. In the collaborative divorce setting, a psychologist-coach chosen by the collaborative team works with the parties and their attorneys to resolve the issues.
Most attorneys have not been trained in law school to address successfully, and in a lasting way, the emotional component of family law conflicts. The combination of the expertise of an attorney and a mental health professional provides a holistic approach to resolve family law conflicts.
A mediated divorce or a collaborative divorce is far more cost-effective than a litigated divorce. In a litigated case, progress is dependent to a great extent on the court's schedule. Each time a party wishes to resolve an issue, absent an agreement, there is typically a two to four week wait – and sometimes much longer - until the case is scheduled for a court hearing. Much of the time in court is spent waiting for your case to be heard. Meanwhile, your lawyer is being paid hourly for “wait time”.
Even after the parties receive notice from their attorneys of a court hearing, continuances and multiple court appearance are commonplace. In addition to frequent court hearings, litigation usually entails filing numerous motions, taking depositions, and responding to discovery motions, resulting in escalation of stress for each party - and escalation of their legal fees.
In contrast, when you choose to divorce through mediation or the collaborative process, you are in control of how long your divorce takes. Meetings can be scheduled as often as you wish. All the time spent with your mediation team/ collaborative team is used efficiently – there is no lost time waiting for your case to get the attention it needs. At each meeting, the parties and their mediation/collaborative team work on the case.
In both processes – mediation and collaborative – when an expert opinion is needed, such as a business valuation, the parties retain only one expert. In litigation, each party retains an expert and the judge then decides which opinion to accept. Litigation unnecessarily duplicates these additional fees, which would likely include the costs of depositions of each expert, and expert fees for time spent in court offering their testimony.
In a litigated divorce, when custody is an issue, the court will likely appoint an attorney to represent your children's interest, and this results in even more legal fees. In both mediation and the collaborative process, the parties are in control of determining what is best for their children. Having the skills of the psychologist/coach as part of the medication/collaborative team helps the parties resolve even the most difficult custody cases. When you consider that a judge has only a very short time to try to understand the needs of your family, who would you prefer to make those decisions? The judge? Or you, the child/children’s parents?
Both mediation and the collaborative process empower the parties to shape their own destiny and that of their children. In contrast, in a litigated divorce, the parties place control over their future in the hands of their attorneys and the judge. A different judge may hear your case on any given day and therefore, may only get to know you and your family for a very brief period of time. Who knows you and the needs of your family best? Who do you want to make these important decisions about your future? Attorney Martin believes it is important for the parties to remain in control.
Mediated Divorce and Collaborative Divorce are private processes. All mediation sessions take place in the privacy of either Dr.Lucyk or Attorney Martin’s office, whichever location is more convenient for you. Similarly, all collaborative meetings are conducted privately in the attorney’s office. In contrast, in a litigated divorce, the parties typically meet in the courtroom where your case may be overheard by any number of people: judges, other litigants and their attorneys, court clerks, court reporters, sheriffs, and the general public.
In a litigated divorce, each party typically communicates through his or her attorney and the attorney's staff. This method of communication takes time – and money. In a mediated divorce or collaborative divorce, there are no intermediaries carrying the message from one person to the other. Communication is direct and typically occurs during the mediation/collaborative sessions in the presence of the mediators/collaborative team. There is no “behind-the-scenes” negotiating between the parties and their attorneys. Both processes are transparent.
Mediated divorce and Collaborative divorce are consensual, voluntary processes. At any time during the mediation or collaborative process, either party can elect to terminate the process and begin litigation. The parties may agree to retain the agreements that they have made thus far and litigate only those issues on which they have been unable to agree. If mediation has been terminated, the parties can consider using the collaborative process instead of litigation. Likewise, if the collaborative process has been terminated, the parties can consider using mediation instead of litigation.
Mediation and collaborative divorce, by their very nature, encourage the parties to consider all family members in creating their agreement. It focuses on the needs and interests of the parties and their children, and allows the parties to take control over decisions that affect them and their children. When the parties are represented by an attorney in a litigated matter, their attorney is obligated to act as an advocate for the client, and not for any other member of the client's family.