If you and your spouse are like most Florida couples contemplating divorce, neither of you likely looks forward to a protracted court battle. 

If you seek a more amicable divorce approach, you may consider either mediation or collaboration. Both give you and your spouse the opportunity to resolve your own differences and issues yourselves rather than leaving important post-divorce decisions up to a judge. While similar, mediation and collaboration are two distinct processes. Here’s how they differ:

Collaboration vs. mediation

The major difference between mediation and collaboration is the attorneys’ roles. If you and your spouse choose mediation, you might not need attorneys at all.

Instead, you hire a neutral mediator. This individual legally represents neither of you and instead acts as your guide and facilitator during a series of three-way joint meetings. In these meetings, you and your spouse negotiate to resolve your issues and arrive at an agreement.

Both you and your spouse have every right to hire your own attorney and have him or her accompany you to these meetings, but it’s not mandatory.

Conversely, if you and your spouse choose collaboration, each of you hires your own attorney, just as you would do in a traditional litigated divorce. Your attorneys, however, do not view each other as adversaries. Nor do they view you and your spouse as adversaries.

Instead, all four of you hold a series of joint meetings wherein you and your spouse negotiate, just like in mediation. Each attorney’s role is to represent his or her client’s best interests without resorting to threats or confrontations in order to do so.

The approach to information

The other difference between mediation and collaboration has to do with how much information you and your spouse must reveal. In mediation, all information is voluntary. Your mediator cannot compel either of you to disclose information or documents.

In collaboration, your respective attorneys retain the same powers of discovery that they have in traditional litigated divorces. This means that, if necessary, the attorneys can serve interrogatories, requests for documents, requests for admissions, and any other necessary legal documents.