Mediation is a private and confidential process. In mediation the mediator acts as an impartial neutral facilitator to help people reach a resolution that is acceptable to all. The mediator does not represent either person, but rather the mediatorís role is to help the participants communicate, determine what is most important to them in an agreement, and assist them in gathering relevant information. Mediation provides a structure, timetable and dynamic that ordinary negotiations often lack. The mediator facilitates communication and helps to guide the participants to an agreement. The mediator then memorializes the agreement in writing. The mediator also assists the participants in completing and filing the necessary forms required by the court.
In mediation, attorneys may still be used by the participants in a variety of manners. The participants may consult with their own respective attorneys on the side for advice or to review the agreement, or attorneys can be present at the mediation sessions. Having attorneys present during the mediation sessions is effective for participants who need guidance, have trouble expressing their needs, or are at an impasse in litigation and are trying mediation before going to court.
The Collaborative Process is a way to resolve disputes between people in a confidential and respectful manner. In Collaborative Practice, the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. The Collaborative Process can best be described as a method of practicing law in which the lawyers for both spouses agree to assist the clients in resolving conflicts by employing cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies and litigation. All of the people involved commit themselves to achieving a negotiated outcome. It is agreed that no litigation will be commenced during negotiations.
Each party is represented by his or her own attorney trained in the Collaborative Process, and the parties may retain other Collaborative Professionals as needed, such as accountants, financial planners, child specialists, and communication specialists, who agree to work in good faith to gather and share all information needed to reach an agreement. The parties and their Collaborative Attorneys agree that they will not go to court to ask a judge to resolve their dispute for them during the Collaborative Process. If one or both of the parties decide to go to court, the Collaborative Professionals withdraw. Litigation attorneys and forensic experts are then retained to take the dispute to court.