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The difference between collaborative law and mediation

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Family Law |

Collaborative law and mediation are two alternative dispute resolution methods. Both aim to resolve conflicts outside of court, but they work differently.

Knowing the differences between these methods can help you choose the best approach for your situation.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law involves both parties and their lawyers committing to resolve disputes without going to court. Everyone agrees to work together and share information openly. This process fosters cooperation and focuses on finding mutually beneficial solutions. If the collaborative process fails, the lawyers have to withdraw, and the parties must hire new representation for court proceedings.


Mediation involves a neutral third party, called a mediator, who helps the disputing parties reach an agreement. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions. Instead, they facilitate communication and help clarify issues. Mediation can occur with or without lawyers present. The process is flexible and allows for creative solutions tailored to the parties’ needs.

Key differences

In collaborative law, lawyers guide negotiations and ensure they cover legal aspects. The process relies on the commitment of all parties to work together. In mediation, the mediator assists in communication, but each spouse has more control over the outcome. Lawyers may advise their clients but do not lead the discussions.

Confidentiality and openness

Collaborative law requires full disclosure of relevant information. The process encourages transparency and trust. Mediation also respects confidentiality, but parties are not obligated to share all details unless they choose to. This difference can impact the depth of discussions and the solutions reached.

Outcome and flexibility

Collaborative law seeks a win-win outcome, with both spouses satisfied with the agreement. If the process fails, the parties must start over with new lawyers. Mediation offers flexibility, allowing parties to tailor solutions to their needs. If mediation fails, divorcing couples can pursue other dispute resolution methods, including litigation.

Collaborative law and mediation both offer unique benefits and can provide a structured and supportive environment for resolving disputes.