If you and your spouse are at the point where divorce is the only option, there are several paths to that end point. Likely you will both hire a divorce attorney. During your initial consultation, they may talk to you about divorce mediation and collaborative divorce as two methods that couples use to come to a settlement agreement. Although there are similarities, such as the end goal of avoiding a hearing, they are not the same process.
In a Collaborative Divorce, There is No Mediator
Collaborative divorce is just as it sounds, you collaborate to come to a settlement agreement. You may share a lawyer or you may each have your own. Usually both parties start off sharing with their divorce attorney what they want from the marriage. Then look at the other’s list. From there you give up some things in order to get other things until both parties agree. There is no third person acting as a referee and you do not need to be in the same room at any time.
During Divorce Mediation You Must Meet with Your Spouse
If you and your soon to be ex cannot stand the sight of each other, mediation is likely not the right path to a settlement. The process of mediation includes you and your spouse sitting in the same room with a neutral third party to discuss what you each want in the settlement and working toward an agreement. It may take several sessions depending on how close to agreement you are and your assets and debts.
Both Processes are More Private Than a Divorce in a Courtroom
Anything said in mediation is private. If you and your spouse are looking to protect your children from the acrimony between you and the other parent, you do not want to go to court. During collaboration, your lawyers communicate back and forth until you reach agreement so you do not have to say anything directly to the other party.
You Can Request or Be Assigned a Guardian Ad Litem in Either Type of Divorce
Often parents have a hard time agreeing to a time sharing plan. Sometimes things related to their expenses and other details of their future make it hard for both parents to agree. If the final issue you and the co-parent are stuck on is where your child or children will primarily reside or any other custody related issues, you may need a guardian ad litem (GAL). The role of the GAL is to help determine what is in the child’s best interests.
Sharing Your Divorce Attorney is Permitted
In fact, you may find that if you share the divorce attorney that your divorce costs you both less in the long run. Because you essentially come to an agreement together, sometimes with input from the mediator or attorney, you save money. However, make sure that the divorce attorney you hire is comfortable with the process you and your spouse choose. At Wagstaff & Pitelis, we have helped couples through all types of divorce including both collaborative divorce and divorce mediation. We can help you whether you and your spouse want to share one attorney or have separate representation. Call us today to see if one of our attorneys is a good match for your needs – (727) 584-8182. We are conveniently located in Clearwater.