Comparison: Collaborative Law versus Litigation and Mediation

The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas provides the following table which compares collaborative family law to mediation and traditional litigation:

Collaborative Law

Litigation

Mediation

Comments and Explanations

Each party has independent legal advice

yes

yes

sometimes

Mediators cannot give legal advice to spouses.  Sometimes (but rarely in Texas) clients will go to mediation without lawyers.  This will work in simple cases, but not in complex cases where parties need advice about their legal rights.
The parties create customized solutions to fit their specific needs

yes

no

yes

Judges are required to follow specific rules and guidelines that might not fit every situation.
The parties are in control of the pace of the divorce process

yes

no

sometimes

Mediation is often part of the litigation system.  Parties are required to try to settle through mediation before they go to court.  Mediation sessions often feel coercive to parties, who have the threat of court looming before them.  In the Collaborative Law model, the parties decide on the pace they want to proceed, and know that they might not get their interests satisfied if they are not willing to be flexible about timing.
Parties have a structured process to follow as a “roadmap” to resolution

yes

no

no

Collaborative Law is a structured process designed to promote settlement.
Parties cooperate in providing information needed to make informed decisions

yes

no

sometimes

The litigation model includes “discovery,” which is often cumbersome and wastes the parties’ resources.  Lawyers sometimes use a strategy where they give the other party only the minimum required amount of information, hoping to gain an advantage at trial.
Parties are encouraged to treat the other party respectfully and to preserve important relationships

yes

no

yes

Litigation pits people against each other in a win/lose system.
Parties have assurance that their spouse’s (or the other party’s) lawyer will not use their words against them

yes

no

no

Collaborative lawyers can never take a case that is proceeding under the Collaborative Law model to court.  If a case needs litigation, the parties get different lawyers for court.
Parties learn new, more useful ways to communicate as they move forward as co-parents

yes

no

no

In mediation, the parties sometimes never see each other.  The mediator uses “shuttle diplomacy” to try to get the parties to reach an agreement.
Both parties have support from experts on financial, parenting and other issues that arise in their case

yes

sometimes

no

Experts are hired in litigation, but generally each party hires his or her own expert to support his or her position.
The parties receive reliable information from experts when they need more information

yes

no

no

Experts hired for litigation are expected to support a party’s position.  Often, each expert has wildly different opinions, leaving the parties and the judge wondering if either is reliable.
The parties have a safe place to express their true interests and negotiate a workable resolution

yes

no

no

While mediation taken alone might provide a safe environment for negotiation, when paired with litigation, it often feels coercive and overwhelming.
Solutions are based on what the parties want to achieve at a high level (their interests)

yes

no

sometimes

Some mediators use interest-based negotiation methods, but often, without ongoing guidance, the parties revert to positional bargaining.
Parties are encouraged to look at the long- and short-term effects of their decisions

yes

no

sometimes

Neutral financial professionals and child specialists bring a variety of services to clients in Collaborative law.  In litigation, they are just hired for the trial.
Parties can be forced to do or not do something

no

yes

no

Mediators cannot force a settlement on parties.  Arbitration is another alternative that does guarantee resolution.
Parties are guaranteed that they will have a resolution to their problems

no

yes

no

A judge or jury will make a decision, even if it seems to be the lesser of two evils, or to produce an unfair result.
Parties feel threatened that they will lose at trial if they do not do what the other party wants

no

yes

yes

As long as the parties are operating within the Collaborative Law model, no one will go to court or threaten to go to court.
Parties and lawyers work together to solve a problem

yes

no

sometimes

Lawyers, clients and experts all have the same goal in Collaborative Law – to find a way to resolve the parties’ differences in a way that protects what is most important to them.

If you have questions regarding the collaborative process and wish to schedule a consultation with a Florida attorney who has received advance training in interdisciplinary collaborative law, call The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at 813-443-0615.  You may also fill out our contact form.

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About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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