For some couples in Pennsylvania, working together throughout the divorce process may be more of a challenge than they are prepared to face. On the other hand, the emotional and financial trauma of litigation can be equally daunting. Rather than suing each other over their disagreements in the way their marriage should be dissolved, spouses may want to consider the benefits of mediation and collaborative divorce. Although these two processes may appear to be the same, they are actually different approaches with the same goal.
The Huffington Post points out that the role of mediation in a divorce is often misunderstood. An attorney who provides mediation services is not hired to determine the outcome of a disagreement, but to offer legal advice and guidance during divorce negotiations between two people who are unable to reach a settlement on their own. A couple hires a mediator to help them come to an agreement they are comfortable with that meets their needs and goals post-separation.
According to Forbes, rather than hiring a single attorney to provide guidance during the divorce process, a collaborative divorce involves each spouse hiring an attorney. There is an agreement that there will be no litigation during the collaborative process, which must end if a settlement is not reached. Litigation would be undertaken as a separate action, and each spouse would have to hire a new lawyer. This helps encourage openness and cooperation during the collaborative process by preventing the information shared in that setting from being later used in court if it does not work out.
Attorneys are not the only professionals typically involved in a collaborative divorce. A forensic accountant may be hired to identify complex assets and multiple sources of income, while a valuation expert can assign correct values to assets such as antiques and collections. High asset divorces are often more easily resolved through collaboration rather than mediation.
Both mediation and collaborative divorce save couples money and expedite the process, which can help them achieve closure more quickly and with less drama and trauma. However, neither process can be effective if either spouse is dishonest about finances, withholding information about income and other marital assets. Also, if one spouse is emotionally or physically abusive or has a substance abuse problem, mediation or collaborative divorce may not be the best approach.
Because there are no cookie-cutter relationships and every couple has their own specific issues, a one-size-fits-all solution typically leaves both sides unsatisfied. Choosing an attorney with the qualifications to provide the service that works best for your situation may be the surest way to move through the divorce process successfully.