Collaborative Mediation

In a Collaborative Mediation, the parties chose to enter into an Agreement to use Collaborative principles to settle the issues arising from the dissolution of their relationship. The Parties retain a Mediator Collaborative Lawyers to assist them in reaching an out-of-court settlement. The Parties, Collaborative Lawyers, Mediator, and other Collaborative Professionals design how they will work together to support, guide and assist the clients to reach an Agreement acceptable to both parties.

The Mediator can prepare a Memorandum of Understanding if the parties reach agreement on all or some of the issues and share it with the parties and their Collaborative attorneys. The Collaborative Lawyers prepare the final legal documents based on Memorandum of Understanding. When issues arise during the drafting, or after consulting with their Collaborative Lawyers, the parties can return to Mediation for resolution.

Collaborative Mediation is a commitment to using the Collaborative principles to:

  • settle the outstanding issues in a non-adversarial manner. 
  • uphold a high standard of integrity, not take advantage of mistakes and negotiate in good faith
  • minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of protracted litigation.
  • cooperate and build trust among all of the individuals involved. 
  • fully and honestly disclose all property and debts and all documents such as financial statements, income tax records, and all other relevant information and writings requested by the other Party that may be relevant to the Mediation discussions. 
  • effectively and respectively communicate with each other and not make accusations or claims not based in fact.
  • efficiently and economically settle the dissolution of their relationship.  

The roles of the professionals in the Collaborative Mediation Process:

  • The primary role of the Mediator is to work with the parties to assist them in coming to agreement on the various issues involved in their case. She facilitates dialogue, assists the parties in identifying issues between them, works to reduce obstacles to communication, maximizes the exploration of alternatives, and clarifies points of agreement.
  • The primary role of the Collaborative Lawyers is to advise the parties and prepare any needed legal documents. The Lawyers  work as part of the Collaborative Team to assist the Parties in coming to agreements.
  • The Parties may meet with the Mediator with or without their Collaborative Lawyers present, as they and the team decide. 
  •  Other Collaborative Professionals may be jointly hired by the parties by agreement to assist with financial analysis, asset appraisal, child issues, or other matters requiring specialized expertise, so that the parties can ensure they are fully informed.

Advantages of Mediation

  • Effective.

    More than 80% of all cases reach an agreement on some or all issues, especially when parties stay focused on their futures and not on past hurts and disappointments.

  • May save time
    and money.

    Parties are in control of their decisions—how often they meet, how quickly they exchange information and how cooperative they are with each other during negotiating.

  • Voluntary with parties in control of the outcome.

    Parties volunteer to mediate or Collaborate.  They contribute to reaching final agreements acceptable to all.

  • Greater compliance.

    Collaborative attorneys advise and support the clients as they work with the mediator to reach an agreement. Parties are more likely to abide by an agreement that they help design.

  • Decreases stress and disruptions.

    Mediation and Collaboration sessions are coordinated with your busy schedules. For efficiency, each meeting follows an agenda with the mediator facilitating the process.

  • Preserves or improves relationships.

    This is especially important with family cases where the parties may have on-going dealings with each other or with children or other family members.

  • Private and confidential.

    By statute, discussions and interactions during mediation and Collaboration are confidential, to encourage an honest discussion of facts, views and feelings. The resulting agreement, generally, is not confidential.

  • Improves skills for resolving disputes.

    An important goal of mediation is modeling problem-solving tools and skills, which parties may use should disputes arise in the future.

Additional Considerations

  • The Mediator is impartial as to each party and neutral as to the results of the mediation. 
  • The Mediator guides the process, the clients decide how to resolve their disputed issues.
  • Though a licensed attorney, the mediator does not serve as an attorney or advocate for either party, will not offer legal advice or provide legal counsel, and not file agreements with the Court.
  • Unlike the Mediator, the Collaborative Lawyers are not impartial but rather each Lawyer works specifically for one Party to provide legal advice, support, and guidance.
  • Full disclosure of all financial and material information is required. The Mediator may choose not to mediate if the requested information is not disclosed. 
  • As with any out-of-court process the parties must work together to achieve a successful resolution and need to understand that the process may not eliminate concerns or differences which have led to the current conflict.

"God gave us two ears and one mouth with which we may choose to listen twice as much as we speak. Mediation provides an opportunity to listen and an opportunity to be heard."

Cheryl Watson Smith, Esq.