What is Collaborative Mediation?

A lot of buzz is starting in Arizona about Collaborative Mediation and people are asking what is it and how is it different from collaborative divorce?  To put it simply, Collaborative Mediation is mediation with a team.  It has also been referred to as Team Mediation.  The team typically consists of one or two mediators (one attorney and/or one therapist/counselor), a financial specialist, and divorce attorneys.  What is unique is that all of the team members enter into a collaborative agreement where they and the couple divorcing agree to work together to come to a mutually satisfying solution and to avoid litigation.

In a different approach from some collaborative divorce models, Collaborative Mediation or Team Mediation allows the couple to decide which team members they would like to utilize and whether to use attorneys.  Also, in Collaborative or Team Mediation, if the couple ultimately decides to litigate some or all of the divorce issues, they may still use their same attorneys. This is different from collaborative divorce where the collaborative attorneys may not represent the parties in court.  As a collaboratively trained professional, I am a fan of both Collaborative Divorce and Collaborative Team Mediation and encourage couples to consider either of these paths in lieu of divorce litigation.

Personally, I have been using a collaborative mediation format in most of my Phoenix mediations since I started Affordable Mediation.  I have encouraged couples to utilize counselors, certified divorce financial professionals and divorce attorneys as needed throughout the mediation.  This has allowed the couple to keep control over the process, manage costs, and obtain the support they need to make the best decisions for their family.

Although I have already been utilizing an informal collaborative mediation process for years, I am considering creating a more formalized framework for collaborative mediation where the team chosen by the divorcing couple will enter into a collaborative agreement with specific goals and ground rules.  I welcome feedback on whether this is a service you would like and what types of goals would serve you and your family best.

Let’s have a great dialogue about Collaborative Mediation!!!