According to the Institute for Family Studies, the U.S. divorce rate dropped to the lowest it has been in 50 years in 2019. The average length of marriages also went up by almost a year in the decade prior.
However, the breaking of legal unions still occurs. Divorce has the potential to be long, stressful and financially draining, but it does not have to be. Collaborative divorce and mediation are two options that may reduce conflict and stress. They diverge from each other in a few ways.
1. The third parties
The main distinction between the two is the third parties brought in to help the separating individuals reach a resolution. In mediation, a neutral third party who does not offer advice tries to guide both sides in developing a suitable agreement while promoting peace. In collaborative divorce, each half of the splitting couple hires their own legal counsel to represent their interests. If they are unable to reach a deal and have to resort to court, then the representatives must bow out. The latter may also involve other employed individuals such as a collaborative coach or person trained to handle mental health.
2. The cost
Mediation is usually cheaper than collaborative divorce. Both, however, cost less than litigation.
3. The structure
Collaborative divorce has more rules and structure. It may also be more conducive for situations where there is a great deal of legal complexity.
Avoiding an acrimonious divorce may help maintain a civil relationship between the former couple and make co-parenting easier if they share minor children. In general, mediation and collaborative divorce are also more likely to end in a mutually satisfactory agreement since the two parties come up with it instead of a court.