Many people confuse the Collaborative Divorce process with mediation as used in divorces. While a Collaborative Divorce has aspects of mediation within it, the main difference is that in the Collaborative Divorce process both parties are fully represented by their own lawyer, acting as advocates, from start to finish. The lawyers in the Collaborative Divorce are there to look out for the best interest of their respective clients, and ensure then the resulting settlement is fair, but not to belittle, “position against” or “attack” the other spouse.
Having a lawyer by your side at all times means that imbalances in knowledge (e.g., about financial matters) or power imbalances within the marriage will be corrected so that informed and durable decisions can be made.
When one spouse has been the main bread-winner, or owns a business or has a complicated wage and benefit structure, mediation without the constant advice and involvement of an attorney on your side, can result in less than optimal agreements. Being fully represented by an attorney who is committed to settlement out-of-court, and who does not escalate conflicts, provides the best of both worlds between the mediation and the litigation process choices.
Mediation with both parties face-to-face with their neutral facilitator, or with the mediator shuttling between the parties in different rooms, can also work well and be cost effective. However mediation without a lawyer to represent you is most viable when the marital assets and finances are uncomplicated and the parties do not have a power or knowledge imbalance between them.