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Differences Between Collaborative Law, Mediation and Litigation

In the United States, including in the state of Texas, collaborative law is fast becoming a viable option when it comes to resolving family law issues. But how does collaborative law compare to other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and litigation?

Each party to collaborative law can have access to unbiased legal counsel. However, mediators cannot provide legal counsel. In Texas, spouses rarely attend mediation sessions without attorneys. In simple cases, this may still work, but in complex legal cases, it will not. Here, spouses will need advice about their legal rights. Whereas in the collaborative law method, parties have the independence to come up with customized solutions to fit their requirements, in litigation, this is not possible. Judges have to follow certain rules that may not apply to every circumstance. Mediation closely resembles collaborative law in this aspect.

In a collaborative law approach, spouses are very much in control of the pace at which the divorce proceeds. However, in litigation, this is not possible at all. In mediation, the spouses have the option of resolving their disputes before they appear in court. In fact, mediation sessions may become bothersome, as the threat of impending litigation looms large before the spouses.

The collaborative law method has another distinct advantage: there is a structured procedure to follow, almost like a “roadmap” that points to the resolution. In mediation and litigation, there is no such structured procedure for the benefit of the clients.

In the collaborative law method, spouses usually cooperate so that the parties can make informed decisions. In litigation, the “discovery” model is used, so parties may not necessarily be cooperative in sharing information. In the end, collaborative can be a good choice for couples that want an alternative to mediation or litigation in resolving their family law disputes.