Areas Of Focus

Family Law Mediation Vs. Collaborative Family Law

Mediation involves a mediator, who is a neutral third party, who helps both sides communicate, discover common ground and find solutions to their problems.

Collaborative law is a form of negotiation in which the two parties and their lawyers meet in person or separately to negotiate a solution to their problems. The parties and their lawyers sign an agreement that they will not proceed to court and will do their best to reach a settlement outside of court. If they are unable to reach a settlement and one of the parties proceeds to court, each party must obtain new lawyers.

In the collaborative process:

  • All parties sign a Participation Agreement, agreeing to fully and honestly disclose information and documentation, including financial records, and to not pursue litigation.
  • A series of four-way meetings takes place between the parties and their lawyers and other professionals such as financial advisors, child care specialists and/or coaches.
  • In between meetings, the parties meet with their lawyers to discuss their next steps.
  • A separation agreement is drafted and signed with all the terms that have been agreed to.
  • If no agreement is reached, all parties agree to start again with other lawyers before going to court.

The collaborative process encourages open communication and cooperation. It can also help partners practice the type of effective problem-solving they may have to do for many years after their separation, especially if they have children.

Comparing Mediation And Collaboration

West Coast ADR Law Group includes both trained mediators and collaborative lawyers. When our clients decide which process to use, we help them consider:

  • Neutrality: In mediation, there is a neutral third party present. In collaborative law, there is no third party, and the lawyers, while cooperating, each represent one of the parties.
  • Fear of litigation: If your mediation does not work, you do not have to start again with a new lawyer. However, knowing that failure will result in greater expense may motivate you to try harder in a collaborative setting than in a mediation.

For a comparison of average costs of mediation versus collaboration, see our costs chart.

Contact West Coast ADR Law Group

Let us help you decide which process is best for you. We represent clients in Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster and surrounding areas of British Columbia. Contact us at 778-728-0670 or fill out our online form to set up an appointment.