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How does collaborative law differ from mediation?

The end of a marriage is often a difficult time that includes many decisions. The decision-making process could entail making choices regarding what route for dissolution they should take. Time and money are often factors that control their choice, especially if both divorcing spouse are seeking a timely amicable divorce.

Divorcing spouses in the Houston area may have heard of two alternatives to traditional divorce court proceedings known as collaborative law and mediation. Since the two options share many similarities, some have assumed they are one and the same. After all, both feature family law negotiation aimed at benefitting the entire family unit, rather than just one spouses versus the other. In addition, both can save spouses time and money by avoiding court unless necessary.

Still, there are key differences between collaborative law and divorce mediation that are helpful to learn if one is considering divorce in Texas. One of the main differences is the manner in which communication occurs. In mediation, the mediator usually serves as the primary negotiator. Mediators are specially-trained for this task and adhere to stringent professional standards in order to mediate effectively between parties and their attorneys. During collaborative law sessions, both spouses and their attorneys typically negotiate face-to-face and have guided yet open and honest discussion with each other directly.

Another key difference is timing. Mediation is often more of an event that occurs once or a few times. Collaborative law, on the other hand, is more akin to a process that frequently involves more meetings. Moreover, mediation often takes place if a divorce trial is looming on the horizon.

Parties may be discussing settlement negotiations with a view towards avoiding a drawn-out legal dispute. While this is also true with collaborative law, a difference is that collaborative law doesn't occur in light of trial preparation but more in light of deliberately avoiding the trial process altogether.

There are many more differences between these two types of resolving a divorce, and many more similarities as well. Speaking with a family lawyer experienced in both may be the best way to get a comprehensive view of one's options in Texas.

Source: State Bar of Texas, Collaborative Law Section, accessed Aug. 4, 2014

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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