Mediation & Collaborative Law
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process of resolving disputes involving a third party neutral (the mediator). The mediator's job is to help keep the discussions focused and guided so that an end result may be achieved. Although a mediator cannot provide opinions to either side, the mediator may educate the parties on the current law. Mediation is designed to help the parties negotiate their own agreement and develop their own solutions to the problem at hand.
When Mediation is a Good Option
Mediation works best when the parties can discuss the issues, even if the parties agree to disagree on any given topic. The parties have to be able to discuss their concerns openly. The parties may chose to retain his/her own lawyer during the process or to review the final agreement.
What is Collaborative Law
This is a team based approach to resolving conflicts. Each party retains a collaborative lawyer who represents him/her. The parties and the lawyers sign agreements stating that each will use his/her best efforts to try to reach agreement with the help of their lawyers. If this does not occur, the parties then cannot use those lawyers for the same action which will then be litigated in court.
How Mediation Differs from Collaborative Law
In mediation, the parties try to resolve their own dispute with the guidance of a mediator while in collaborative law, the parties each retain a collaborative lawyer to negotiate the parties' positions. In collaborative law, the parties' attorneys provide advice to the client, while in mediation, the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party that could advantage one party. The mediator merely provides information on the current state of the law. When dealing with a family law issue, the current state of the law can be varied and fact specific.