Archive for the ‘Collaborative Law’ Category

Collaborative Law vs. Mediation

March 10th, 2015 at 11:53 am

collaborative law, mediation, Chicago Family Law AttorneysMediation has become a widely used and familiar part of the divorce process. Collaborative law is a lesser known form of alternative dispute resolution commonly used now in Illinois divorce cases. Many are still unfamiliar with what collaborative divorce really means. Often times, people assume that collaborative divorce and mediation are the same thing and these terms can be used interchangeably. However, there are several differences that are important to understand before deciding whether either process is right for you.

Collaborative Law

The main goal of collaborative law is similar to that of mediation in divorce cases: to resolve important family matters efficiently outside of the courthouse. The benefits are similar to mediation as well: saving the parties time and money, while sparing them the frustrations of the court process. The procedure, however, is quite different. In collaborative law, each party hires his or her own attorney, and then all of them work together to negotiate settlements on key issues. The parties will also retain a parenting specialist, financial specialist, and divorce coaches to assist them in developing communication and facilitate a final agreement. In the event that the parties are unable to come to an agreement using the collaborative process, and the case goes to traditional litigation, the attorneys originally hired to represent each party must withdraw and each party must hire new counsel.


Mediation in a divorce case is the process by which both spouses go to a neutral third party, or mediator, with the hopes of compromising on certain key issues in the divorce.  While the mediator must be trained in alternative dispute resolution, he or she is not required to be a licensed attorney. Both parties may have their attorneys present at the mediation, though it is not mandatory.  However, it is important to remember that the mediator is neutral and not advocating for the rights of either party as an attorney would.  In complex situations, particularly those involving financial concerns, each spouse may want his or her attorney to be present in order to make sure their individual interests are being protected. Separate counsel for each party can help ensure that any resulting agreement is not only equitable, but legally sound and sustainable.


As discussed a bit above, both processes have a common goal and many similar benefits, including saving time and money and avoiding the unpredictability of the judicial process. Both collaborative law and mediation are also commonly used when the parties agree at the outset of the divorce to keep the conflict and the costs low.

Because mediation and collaborative law require mutual respect to succeed, it is imperative that both parties do their best to work together throughout the entire process. Both methods allow the divorcing spouses to decide upon the terms of their own divorce, as opposed to leaving it up to the discretion of a judge.  

If you are  considering filing for divorce and think that collaborative law, mediation, or another alternative dispute resolution technique may work for your family, contact our office today to discuss your options. Our team of experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help determine what the best method will be for your divorce. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.