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What’s the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce?

Both mediation and collaborative divorce can be extremely beneficial and cost-saving tactics in a divorce. However, the processes are handled differently depending on who’s involved and the role of each individual.

difference between mediation and divorce

Adriana Blanchette is a certified mediator in the State of Arizona. If you’re interested in Adriana’s mediation services or if you want her to represent you in your collaborative divorce, call (602) 881-1748 to schedule your consultation today.


Mediation relies on a neutral third party who works to help spouses reach an agreement on some or all of the issues they’re facing. Mediators are expert problem-solvers and can clear up issues while maintaining mutual respect and dignity. However, there’s a very important caveat to mediation: A mediator cannot offer legal advice to either party.

They do not make decisions or force the spouses into an agreement. In family law mediation, the mediator is often an experienced family law attorney who’s completed additional training such as in dispute resolution, or they might be a retired judge.

Each spouse can choose to represent themselves or retain their own attorney, who will guide and advise them, review offers, and help craft counteroffers. The parties can choose whether or not they want their attorney present during mediation or if they’ll simply consult behind the scenes. 

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, Ms. Blanchette represents one party and provides them with legal advice throughout the process.

Before engaging in the collaborative divorce process, each party must sign a contract or agreement which outlines their commitment to proceed with the divorce outside of court. The agreement will also outline what will happen if spouses are unable to reach an agreement, making it necessary to bring the issues in front of a judge.

Ms. Blanchette will work cooperatively with the other party in an attempt to reach a resolution on all or some of the issues of the divorce without putting the matter before the court to decide. 

When Ms. Blanchette represents one party, she will not give legal advice to the other party because she has a duty to her client and isn’t acting as a neutral mediator.

Which is faster?

Like the answer to most legal questions, the answer here is: it depends. There’s no definitive duration or time to completion for either mediation or a collaborative divorce because it depends on the number of issues in dispute and how cooperative the parties are with each other. 

Generally, both can be completed fairly quickly if it’s a simple divorce, like one without children, or if there are few issues in dispute because the parties work well together. However, typically a collaborative divorce takes slightly longer than mediation because in addition to having a sit-down meeting, your attorney will exchange disclosures, communication, and offers with the other party or their attorney, and they might not receive prompt or immediate responses.  

Is mediation cheaper than a collaborative divorce?

The cost of collaborative divorce or mediation also depends on the disputed issues, the relationship between the spouses, the number of professionals involved, and the extent to which they’re involved.

For example, in a mediation where both parties have an attorney and they’re sharing the costs of mediation, if they attend a four-hour mediation, they’ll both be paying for two hours of the mediator’s time plus four hours of their attorney’s time. If they simply consult with their attorney outside of mediation to review disclosures or offers following the four-hour mediation, they’ll still pay for two hours of the mediator’s time and the amount of time they discuss things with their attorney. 

In a collaborative divorce, you aren’t paying mediator fees in addition to your attorney’s fees, however, there could be more back-and-forth between your attorney and your spouse or their attorney, which could ultimately cost the same as mediation but it might take longer.

Do you want an easier divorce? Blanchette Law PLLC can help.

Adriana Blanchette and her team at Blanchette Law PLLC are experienced in both mediated and collaborative divorces, all with a focus on healthy communication and assisting the parties in reaching an agreement that’s best for them and their families. 

To schedule your consultation with Ms. Blanchette, call (602) 881-1748 today.

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