For many people, when they first hear about Collaborative Law, they think it must be similar to arbitration or mediation, two other processes some people have heard of. Although they are all three considered disputes resolution processes, they are very different.
An arbitrator hears both sides and makes a decision, instead of letting the parties come to an agreement. It is very similar to litigation. A mediator is a neutral person working with both sides to try to reach an agreement. In Texas, mediation is usually a single negotiating session, for a whole day or half a day. The mediation can extend to additional meetings, but that seems to be rare in Texas.
In Collaborative Law, no decision is made by a third party, as the terms of divorce are agreed upon by both parties, and there are a series of relatively short meetings, with limited agendas, in contrast to the one big meeting used in mediation. One way to think of a Collaborative Law attorney is as a guide to creative problem-solving, a process we covered in our last blog post. Attorneys help the other professionals work with the parties to come up with ways to meet their needs for the future.