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Collaborative VS. Mediation

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Abbondad posted 6/2/2013 10:09 AM

Hi, Everyone,

I would appreciate anyone's experiences going through a mediated vs collaborative divorce.

My wife wants mediation. (She doesn't like lawyers, it's much less money.).

I want collaborative. I want an advocate and an advisor. I really want to limit contact with my wife, let alone negotiation. She has conjured up a great deal of animosity toward me since I dared to even divorce her.

(I have closed the bakery, told her I am moving on--and she is furious.)

We absolutely agree that we don't want to litigate. There are no child custody disputes and we don't have much money.

For those who went through the collaborative process, what was it like? How much did it cost?


woundedwidow posted 6/2/2013 10:49 AM

I'm sorry, Abbondad, but what your WW wants no longer matters. She has consistently shown that she will do or say whatever is in HER own best interest. I realize that lawyers are expensive, but it is in YOUR best interest and the best interest of your children to lawyer up ASAP. And, I would hire the biggest shark around too. She will NOT negotiate, mediate, or collaborate with you in good faith. Word.

debbysbaby posted 6/2/2013 12:20 PM

What woundedwidow said...

Abbondad posted 6/2/2013 12:25 PM

I understand. But what I really want to avoid is involving the kids in any way. I don't know anything about the divorce process. Is there a way to avoid this? E.g., I don't want a judge to make any decisions about custody.

And again, we just don't have a lot of money.

million pieces posted 6/2/2013 12:41 PM

I think it would vary state to state.

My experience in MD. MOST divorces don't end in court/litigation. Of course, mine did. We did try mediation, both of us had a lawyer who was going to look over what we came up with in mediation. 90% of our stuff we agreed and it went very well, the other 10% was his way or the highway. It was not in my best interest at all. He became a bully and I had my L attend with me the last mediation session to have ex behave better. It worked, but things fell through because he refused not to sign over his life insurance to the OW. And he refused to pay any part of secondary education.

Anyway, go to a lawyer and get your options. Mediation and lawyer are not mutually exclusive. I have several friends that went through mediation and ALL had lawyers.

ButterflyGirl posted 6/2/2013 12:49 PM

We are in the process of mediation (and we both have lawyers), but honestly, he's gonna know at the next mediation that I will get what I want or we WILL litigate. I'm not rolling over and playing dead so this can end. I will get EVERYTHING that is rightfully mine in this divorce..

Even if you don't want to litigate, I would stop promising her that. I would come with the attitude that she better follow the rules or you will fight..

I would be scared to let a judge decide my fate with the kids, so I'm hoping just the threat of litigation will be enough.. But I have enough documented proof to show that I'm the better, more reasonable, more reliable parent in every.damn.way..

We don't have a lot of money either. I'm probably going to take all the debt and file bankruptcy so I can keep my retirement. The bigger issues for me surround the kids. I want EVERYTHING spelled out with no wiggle room, holidays, schedules, child support, extras, first right of refusal, everything.. These types of unremorseful spouses will manipulate any way they can, so I want the rules listed in black and white..

Your WW is ALREADY playing games with the schedule. Start showing her who the boss around here is..

Catwoman posted 6/2/2013 15:08 PM

In most states, a judge will only decide the unresolved issues.

That being said, very few cases go to trial. Very. Few. In the vast majority of cases, the attorneys work with each other and their clients to broker a settlement. It is rare that one is not reached.

The children are not normally involved in the process, so if you already agree on custody, the time and effort will be spent on the areas that still need to be determined.

I would hire an attorney, and i would not mediate with this woman.


woundedwidow posted 6/2/2013 15:20 PM

The very fact the you've said you know nothing about the divorce process means that you need an attorney to, at the very least, protect your rights during the process. That would be true even if you did go with a collaborative or a mediated divorce, because the lawyer would provide advice to you during the negotiations. However, given your WW's entitled mindset, I predict you will need an attorney for much more than advice, as I stated previously. I KNOW you want to believe that she will act in a way that will minimize damage to the family and finances, but her previous actions are an excellent predictor that she will do the opposite. You are still holding on to an image/memory of her that simply no longer exists.

debbysbaby posted 6/2/2013 15:30 PM

Like everyone else said, hiring attorneys doesn't mean you're litigating. And you can still agree to the things that you are on the same page about and when you get stuck on Issues like diciding a pension or division of debt then let a lawyer help you haggle or a judge decide if it comes down to it on those issues.

Rebreather posted 6/2/2013 15:30 PM

Can collaboriative work in your situation? Maybe. But collaborative is designed to be just that - a collaboration. BOTH parties MUST be dedicated to wanting to use this route. Just the fact that your wife doesn't want to do it this way is a sign that it is unlikely to work. While your wife is still in her wayward fog and combative with you, it makes me very concerned.

I would seek consultation with a firm that has lawyers to that do many different types of divorce. I think they can best advise you as to what is in your best interest. I am a huge fan of collaborative divorce, but it is a massive suck of resources if it fails. You said you don't have much money and collaborative tends to be more expensive than traditional divorce. So if it fails and you have to start over with new counsel, etc., that is going to cost one pretty penny.

Catwoman posted 6/2/2013 15:36 PM

Additionally, I do know that mediation brokers an agreement THEN files the completed petition with the court. A real danger in this is that you have no legal protection if your STBX wants to drain her 401(k) and take her new boyfriend Carlos to Tahiti or jet off with the kids to Alaska and never come back. By filing for divorce and instituting a financial restraining order and perhaps a flight order, you are protected. Filing does not mean you cannot work towards an agreement--but it does give you a goodly amount of legal and financial protection.

Additionally, I am in the camp that states a wayward partner makes a poor mediation partner. My own experiences have proved that.


PS: I hired a shark in heels and made mincemeat of the ex in our only hearing. Made getting that agreement done very sweet, as the judge ruled everything in my favor (kid custody was not an issue--we had previously decided it on our own).

[This message edited by Catwoman at 3:36 PM, June 2nd (Sunday)]

nutmegkitty posted 6/2/2013 15:51 PM

I agree 100% with every word Cat says. Please, please, get yourself a good attorney and forget collaboration or mediation.

You've told her the bakery is closed, now prove it by taking the action of hiring your own shark of an attorney and getting the ball rolling.

Grace and Flowers posted 6/2/2013 22:04 PM

Like Cat said, filing now puts a sort of financial restraining order in place.

In my case, WXH And I agreed on everything. I hired a lawyer (for me, to make sure I was doing it right, and not missing anything). WXH didn't even get a lawyer. The lawyer drew up the documents, and because we had already agreed on everything, it all went through smoothly. A judge will not alter the agreement unless it is grossly unfair.

All in all, with the QDRO work as well, it ended up costing about $2500.

But, your WW does not sound like she will stick to agreements you may think you already have. Both of you are so unsteady that I highly advise having the legal help. In no way does hiring a lawyer mean you will be "litigating"!!!

But it does mean you will be protecting yourself, your kids, your assets AND your debts. Until you file, remember, she can go out and rack up a ton of debt....or default on a loan you had nothing to do with....or any number of other financial disasters...and you WILL be liable for half of whatever mess she makes. And that will cost you WAY more in the long run than a lawyer.

And I agree with the others. It's time to stop trying to keep her happy by doing it all the way she wants.

Hire the lawyer, draw up the papers as you both have agreed....and then sit back and see if she holds to your agreements or starts to fight. Believe me, if she wants to start changing everything you have already agreed upon, then you will need that lawyer.

Be proactive.

[This message edited by SadMad2012 at 10:04 PM, June 2nd (Sunday)]

Chrysalis123 posted 6/2/2013 22:33 PM

I was the over-giving one in the relationship. I was the one that was over- loyal, over-nice, over everything decent and good.

X made mincemeat of me and progressively showed more disrespect as the years wore on.

That was nothing compared to the rage when I DARED to divorce him.

I was afraid to hire a lawyer because I was afraid I was being too mean and vindictive. Guess what? That is what X vulnerable and groveling.

Tried mediation and it was an expensive joke and nearly hurt me due to a mediator that was not a lawyer.

My father finally 2X4 some sense into me. He asked, "What would you do if a business person was acting like this and violating rights and stealing from you?" I would hire a lawyer of course.


And that lawyer was the best investment I made for my KIDS' future and security. That lawyer watched over my interests like a hawk and had dealt with NPD people before.

I do not regret it for one second. I had a pitbull crossed with a shark lawyer too!

[This message edited by Chrysalis123 at 10:34 PM, June 2nd (Sunday)]

Phoenix1 posted 6/2/2013 22:49 PM

Also keep in mind that just because you get a lawyer doesn't mean she has to if she is so adverse to them. It wouldn't be the smartest move, but that is not your problem (and a tactical mistake your lawyer can exploit). You can still go thru mediation as well, with your lawyer in tow...

crazynot posted 6/3/2013 00:49 AM

Absolutely agree. Your lawyer is there to represent YOUR wishes and involving one is in my view a massive load off your mind. My WH is actually very reasonable and we are food friends again now, just about to have an amicable divorce that will have cost very little. But for lots of reasons none of that would have happened without us both having really mature, sensible lawyers. Hardly ANY divorce cases end up in court, apart from rubber-stamping. But without a lawyer, and with an uncooperative spouse (unlike your WW, my WH and I both agreed we wanted a divorce), the process will be longer and more painful. And yes, stop thinking or caring about what she wants. Her reasons for not wanting lawyers are likely to involve making it easier to get what SHE wants.

HopeImOverIt posted 6/3/2013 12:59 PM

Can you tell us what you mean by collaborative divorce and how it differs from mediation? Then we might be able to advise you better.

Honestly, I thought they were synonyms, but wikipedia says collaboration is more like binding arbitration. I don't know if that's correct or not, but I have to say I don't like the sound of that.

By contrast, an entry on agreed with my perception that collaborative divorce means using a mediator.

What I can tell you is this: I mediated, and it was a voluntary process. The parties try to reach an agreement, but either one can reject the agreement or drop out at any time.

In our case we jointly hired a mediator who helped us reach an agreement without our lawyers present. So we had just 3 people in the room: me, then-STBX and mediator. Our mediator was himself a lawyer, but neutral between us, and I believe that is most common.

We each consulted our own lawyers separately to give us advice and review the proposed agreement drafts.

Since we were able to reach an agreement, we never went to court at all. We both signed the agreement, Ex's lawyer gave it to the judge, judge signed it in his/her chambers a few weeks later. End of story. Our lawyers and the mediator all agreed that they had never heard of a judge rejecting a signed mediated agreement.

It's also possible to do mediation with you and your lawyer in one room, STBX and her lawyer in another room, and a mediator shuttles between the two rooms. That will usually be more expensive because you will be paying 3 lawyers to listen to you argue instead of just one. But if you can't stand to be in the same room as your STBX, that could be a way to go.

I don't know anyone who has done a collaborative divorce as it is described by wikipedia, so I have no idea how much contact you would have with your STBX during it. I've also heard of mediation being done by someone trained as a counselor rather than as a lawyer, but I don't know anyone who has done that either.

My SO mediated his divorce and his mediator was also trained as a lawyer. The process was very similar to mine. He and then-STBX and mediator met in a room to hammer out details. She consulted with her own lawyer and he consulted with his own lawyer at separate times. The mediator submitted the agreement to the judge; neither SO nor his Ex went to court.

Of course divorce law could be different in your state.

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