Collaborative Practice and Mediation
In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the negotiations of both parties and helps to settle the case. However, the mediator cannot give legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If parties have retained attorneys, those attorneys may or may not be present at the mediation sessions. If they are not present, then they are typically consulted between mediation sessions. When there’s an agreement, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by the parties and their lawyers.
Collaborative Practice allows you both to have lawyers present during the negotiation process to keep settlement as the top priority. The lawyers, who have training similar to mediators, work with their clients and one another to assure a balanced process that’s positive and productive. When there is agreement, a document is drafted by the lawyers, and reviewed and edited by you and your spouse or partner until everyone is satisfied.
Both Collaborative Practice and mediation rely on voluntary, free exchange of information and commitment to resolutions respecting everyone’s shared goals. If mediation doesn’t result in a settlement, you may choose to use your counsel in litigation, if this is what you and your lawyer have agreed. In Collaborative Practice, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement aligning everyone’s interests in resolution. It specifically states that the Collaborative attorneys and other professional team members are disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative process ends without reaching an agreement. Your choice of mediation or Collaborative Practice should be made with professional advice.