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Comparison Chart

Mediation Collaborative Practice Litigation
Who Controls the Process You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions Attorneys control process and Judge makes final decisions if no agreement
Degree of Adversity You and your spouse pledge mutual respect and openness You and your spouse pledge mutual respect and openness Court process is based on an adversarial system
Cost Usually the least expensive model, but provides the least amount of professional support unless team model is employed Costs are manageable, usually less expensive than litigation; team model is financially efficient in use of experts Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly including frequency of post-judgment litigation
Timetable You and your spouse create the timetable You and your spouse create the timetable Judge sets the timetable; often delays given crowded court calendars
Use of Outside Experts Jointly retained specialists help you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions Jointly retained specialists help you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions Separate experts are hired to support the litigants’ positions, often at great expense
Involvement of Lawyers Even if the mediator is a lawyer, he or she can not advocate for either party. Hiring outside attorneys as review counsel is generally recommended You each retain lawyers who assist you in working toward a mutually created settlement Lawyers fight to win, but someone often loses
Privacy The process and discussion or negotiation details are kept private The process and discussion or negotiation details are kept private Dispute becomes a matter of public record and and, sometimes, media attention
Facilitation of Communication The skill of the mediator will determine how well communication is facilitated between you and your spouse Team of collaborative specialists educate and assist you and your spouse on how to effectively communicate with each other No process designed to facilitate communication
Voluntary vs. Mandatory Voluntary – process is outside of court Voluntary – process is outside of court Mandatory if no agreement
Lines of Communication You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance of the mediator You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance of members of your team You and your spouse negotiate through your lawyers, often impairing communication with your spouse