Types of Divorce

Mediation, Collaborative, Litigation? Which is right for you?

The following is a quick breakdown on the differences between mediation, collaborative divorce and litigation. Use this information to help you choose the right course of action for your divorce. Each of these approaches to divorce have their unique benefits and may not be right for your particular situation. Consult with a divorce attorney to determine which approach you and your spouse should take. The right divorce attorney should be able to handle any of these approaches.

Litigation Collaboration Mediation
Who controls the process The judge You and your spouse You and your spouse
Degree of adversity Court process operates on an adversarial system You and your spouse agree to openness and respect You and your spouse agree to openness and respect
Cost Unpredictable. Can escalate quickly during process and post-judgment Manageable, efficient Least expensive option; you and your spouse typically split the costs
Timetable Judge – and crowded court calendars – decide Decided by you and your spouse Decided by you and your spouse
Use of outside experts Litigants hire separate experts, often at great expense Experts are jointly retained to guide you and your spouse toward mutually favorable solutions Experts are jointly retained to guide you and your spouse toward mutually favorable solutions
Level of lawyer involvement Both lawyers fight to win – which means someone must lose Your lawyers hammer out an agreement that benefits both parties Mediator does not advocate for either party. You and your spouse work together to reach a mutually agreeable settlement
Privacy Proceedings are a matter of public record All proceedings are kept private Everything that is discussed during and after mediation is kept confidential
Communication facilitation No system in place to encourage communication between spouses Team of specialists teach you and your spouse how to communicate with respect and dignity Team of specialists teach you and your spouse how to communicate with respect and dignity
Voluntary or mandatory Mandatory if no agreement Voluntary Voluntary
Communication process You and your spouse negotiate via lawyers You and your spouse communicate directly, aided by members of your team You and your spouse communicate directly, aided by your mediator
Court involvement Court-based Outside court Outside court
  • Who controls the process
  • Degree of adversity
  • Cost
  • Timetable
  • Use of outside experts
  • Level of lawyer involvement
  • Privacy
  • Communication facilitation
  • Voluntary or mandatory
  • Communication process
  • Court involvement

Litigation

  • The judge
  • Court process operates on an adversarial system
  • Unpredictable. Can escalate quickly during process and post-judgment
  • Judge – and crowded court calendars – decide
  • Litigants hire separate experts, often at great expense
  • Both lawyers fight to win – which means someone must lose
  • Proceedings are a matter of public record
  • No system in place to encourage communication between spouses
  • Mandatory if no agreement
  • You and your spouse negotiate via lawyers
  • Court-based

Collaboration

  • You and your spouse
  • You and your spouse agree to openness and respect
  • Manageable, efficient
  • Decided by you and your spouse
  • Experts are jointly retained to guide you and your spouse toward mutually favorable solutions
  • Your lawyers hammer out an agreement that benefits both parties
  • All proceedings are kept private
  • Team of specialists teach you and your spouse how to communicate with respect and dignity
  • Voluntary
  • You and your spouse communicate directly, aided by members of your team
  • Outside court

Mediation

  • You and your spouse
  • You and your spouse agree to openness and respect
  • Least expensive option; you and your spouse typically split the costs
  • Experts are jointly retained to guide you and your spouse toward mutually favorable solutions
  • Mediator does not advocate for either party. You and your spouse work together to reach a mutually agreeable settlement
  • All proceedings are kept private
  • Team of specialists teach you and your spouse how to communicate with respect and dignity
  • Voluntary
  • You and your spouse communicate directly, aided by your mediator
  • Outside court