Skip to main content

You’ve found yourself in the position of needing a divorce.  Most people never plan for their marriage to end this way, so you’ve probably begun to search for information on the internet to figure out where to begin, what your rights are, and what to expect next.  Perhaps you’ve talked to your friends or family who’ve been in your shoes, and you’ve heard the terms “Divorce Mediation” and “Collaborative Divorce.”  So, what do they mean?  Are they the same thing?  Are either of them the right path for your divorce?

While Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are similar and are often interchanged in conversation, they are not the same thing.  Here is a brief outline of each.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a means of navigating a divorce process for divorcing couples who want to avoid litigation in a courtroom.  In a Collaborative divorce, each party hires their own individual attorney who represents their unique best interest in the negotiations.  The attorneys in a Collaborative process must be formally trained to practice in Collaborative Divorce.

In fact, each party in a Collaborative divorce signs an agreement that they will not litigate the divorce, and if they decide to do so they must terminate the Collaborative process and begin the proceedings from scratch with a brand-new attorney. The principle behind this rule is to create buy-in for both parties and to remove the threat of litigation from the negotiation process.

There are often additional experts appointed in the case such as financial experts to value property or retirement investments or complete budgeting and planning for each party post-divorce, divorce coaches or therapists, insurance professionals, or estate and probate lawyers. In a Collaborative divorce involving children, there may be a parenting coordinator or other professional utilized for the development of a timesharing schedule and Parenting Plan that is best for the whole family.

Collaborative divorces are right for couples who have complicated or more extensive estates but want to avoid an adversarial or lengthy litigation battle.  Collaborative divorces can streamline a complicated divorce and utilize a team approach of professionals to help each party arrive at the best possible scenario in their life after divorce.

What is a Mediated Divorce?

Similar to a Collaborative divorce, a mediated divorce process is right for divorcing couples who want an amicable divorce, are familiar with their finances, but need some expertise on how to divide property and draft the legal agreements necessary to finalize the legal process.  In a mediated divorce, both parties work with one attorney who is considered neutral in the process.

This means the attorney does not advise either party on their best interests in the divorce, however, they help the parties facilitate a fair division of their assets and debts based on New Mexico law, draft all the necessary paperwork, and facilitate filing the agreements with the court.  Often a mediated divorce process is best for parties that are familiar with the assets and debts of the community estate, and it is generally more expedient and much less expensive than a Collaborative divorce process.

Which is Right for You?

Either process is great for parties with and without children.  A collaborative process is a much more formal and extensive route, although both types of divorces prioritize amicable resolutions to the issues at hand.  For parties with children, an amicable process is the best way to ensure a healthy and sustainable co-parenting relationship after the divorce.

Kelly Squires, Business Manager for Terry & deGraauw, P.C.  February 2022