Collaborative divorce is not new in Pennsylvania, but the popularity of the process has made it more prominent. In fact, the state legislature passed laws aimed to regulate the process.
Neither mediation nor collaborative divorce or new choices when a couple decides to split. People unfamiliar with the practices may not know they exist or the reasons why they should consider them a viable alternative to divorce. While they have the same end-goal in mind, the two processes are different.
Mediation involves the parties and their representatives appearing before a third-party. This mediator oversees the negotiations between the parties and may offer guidance and suggestion. When the divorce proves particularly contentious, the mediator may keep the parties apart to avoid fighting. In this instance, the mediator moves between the rooms, presenting offers and counteroffers. A mediation may end in the settlement of all issues. If it does not, the parties proceed to court.
When couples choose the collaborative divorce route, there are several changes to the process. While they still get together with their representatives to try and settle their issues, there is no neutral party facilitating things. The couple and their attorneys meet as often as they need to compromise on all outstanding areas of the divorce. The process proves less expensive, stressful and time-consuming than the other routes to divorce. However, if the parties do not resolve things, they must retain new attorneys and go through the court system.
Deciding which way to proceed with a divorce is up to the parties. If spouses believe they can agree without intervention, then a collaborative divorce may work. Otherwise, the couple may try mediation before seeing a judge.