Collaborative divorce is different from divorce mediation, although like mediation it is also a way for divorcing couples to settle without a court battle. In collaborative divorce each couple hires a lawyer to work with them and meet the other side in four way meetings. In mediation a neutral person simply helps the parties to agree everything themselves that with a collaborative divorce a family lawyer is used by each spouse to argue their case.
This can lead to very real costs savings. Apart from court fees, the court process is expensive and protracted. When a settlement is reached, it is more likely to work if agreed by the parties rather than being forced on them following acrimonious court proceedings. When people reach an agreement themselves, they only have to sign an agreement and then ask the court to give it legal effect by making a consent order. It can be very simple and straightforward.
There are a number of advantages over mediation. With collaborative divorce a spouse will have an experienced lawyer to explain the law and what the likely entitlement would be if matters came before a court. The arguments can be put forward convincingly, and where the other side also has an experienced lawyer it will very often be the case that agreement is reached.
In some cases, however, the collaborative approach will not be appropriate. This will especially be the case where there is domestic violence and protection is needed. It will also not be suitable where one party is likely to make off with a matrimonial asset or has shown that they will not be bound by what is fair and proper. However, where a sense of fairness prevails, divorcing couples should consider a collaborative divorce.