Mediation vs. Collaborative Divorce

If you are interested in filing for divorce, you may be wondering what your options are to officially end your marriage. There are two ways to file for divorce out of court: mediation and collaborative divorce

Both cooperative methods allow couples to make all divorce-related decisions (e.g., property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc.), rather than have a judge ultimately decide the matters in court litigation. The following is a breakdown of mediation and collaborative divorce to determine which approach is best for your situation. 


Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party (i.e., the mediator) brings options to the table, guides both parties through the complex legal, logistical, and financial aspects of divorce, and helps them prepare the final agreement after they decide all divorce-related issues. Each party may hire an attorney to review the document, explain the legal consequences, and propose changes if necessary. 

The mediator can be an attorney, a counselor, a therapist, or any professional who specializes in mediation. Remember, the mediator has no power to decide any issues on behalf of the couple. 

The following are some of the main benefits of mediation: 

  • Inexpensive compared to court litigation 

  • Less time consuming than court litigation 

  • Flexible 

  • Informal 

  • Confidential 

  • Control 

Collaborative Divorce 

The collaborative law process combines traditional divorce using lawyers and mediation. Each party hires his/her own collaborative attorney who looks out for his/her interests every step of the way.  

Couples may feel more comfortable having someone represent them, especially if the case involves significant assets, if one spouse predominately handles all the finances, or other complicated legal issues. Instead of empowering the parties to make their own decisions, collaborative lawyers will provide advice and direction throughout the process. 

A series of meetings are held involving both spouses and their respective collaborative lawyers to try to come to an agreement on all divorce-related matters. Other professionals--such as accountants, child specialists, etc.— may participate in the meetings. 

If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the two collaborative attorneys are required to withdraw. The couple must start over with a new lawyer and new professionals. 

Collaborative divorce costs are much higher than divorce mediation since both parties must hire their own lawyers. Collaborative divorce is also much slower since each party’s lawyers must find time in their busy schedule to meet, as opposed to meeting with only one mediator at any time and any place. However, both means of divorce provide the same amount of confidentiality. 

If you are interested in collaborative divorce or divorce mediation in Chicago, IL, call the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. at (312) 487-2795 or fill out our online contact form today for a phone consultation. 

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