Approaches Compared


In the traditional litigation approach, both clients retain attorneys whose focus is to prepare a picture of “reality” which will result in the best decision for their client by a judge.  Often, this method includes denigrating the other party or his/her perception of reality.  Trial is often compared to a battle, in which one side “wins” and one side “loses”.  In some circumstances, litigation is the only option.  For example, if the other party consistently hides information or is abusive, the formal procedures utilized in litigation may be the tools necessary to obtain an acceptable solution.

In mediation, a neutral professional assists the clients settle the dispute.  Generally, the clients agree that all information will be shared and that they are seeking a “win-win” solution.  The mediator does not represent either party and the clients do not go to court.  Typically, the mediation does not include attorneys except in a consulting or reviewing capacity.  Mediation can work well for clients who have the ability to communicate their needs directly to the other person and who are sophisticated enough to understand the financial and legal information being provided.

In collaboration the positive qualities of litigation and mediation are combined in a no-court, non-adversarial process.  Just as in litigation, both clients have independent attorneys who will give them quality legal advice and will advocate for their needs.  In addition, the clients each have Divorce Coaches, and share a neutral Financial Professional and a neutral Child Specialist (if there are minor children) to assist them. Drawing from mediation, this Collaborative Team commits to an open information gathering process, a focus on finding solutions and a commitment to reach a settlement without going to court.



Costs Compared

Litigation is typically the most expensive of the options financially and emotionally, now and in the future.  As an adversarial process, which emphasizes and focuses on the worst characteristics and nature of the clients, negative emotions and conflict escalate, and attorneys’ fees and costs mount.  Disputes between former spouses/partners, i.e., the dirty laundry, are aired in public and hurt feelings solidify into long-term animosity.  A total stranger in a black robe makes all your decisions for you sometimes even leaving the “winners” feeling more like losers.

Mediation is potentially the least expensive of the options in the short term.  Financially, the costs are usually relatively modest.  And mediation helps minimize the emotional impacts for everyone, especially the kids.  The clients are in control of the outcome.  They reach settlement via consensus, so it is more likely they will be satisfied with the agreements made, understand them and honor them longer than those that may result from the stress and duress of litigation and the orders of the trial court.

Collaboration is potentially the best value of the three.  The cost of Collaborative Divorce is estimated at 30-60% the cost of litigation, and it is typically more than the cost of mediation, but you get more.  Since divorce is a legal, financial and emotional process, clients benefit from an interdisciplinary team of professionals. This team of Collaborative Professionals educates, guides and coaches the clients through the process of Collaborative Divorce to reach settlement.

Adapted with permission from Texas Collaborative Divorce

Traditional Courtroom Setting

H’s Coach

H’s Attorney

W’s Coach

W’s Attorney

Child Specialist

Financial Professional