Tag Archives: Collaboration

Mediation vs. Collaboration – Get Answers Here!

4 Aug

Web-savvy individuals who have researched alternatives to divorce proceedings may already recognize these terms. But what exactly do they mean? Would either of these methods work for you?


Mediation and collaboration can be highly useful tools in settling divorces and their related financial matters. The key to and characterization of both methods is cooperation. All parties involved, from clients to attorneys, have a goal of resolving matters through cooperation. These methods of resolving divorces, which serve as alternatives to traditional divorce litigation, allow the parties involved to define their dispute own their own terms. Because of this alternative nature, parties interested in resolving issues through cooperative methods often are able to define the scope of their dispute “outside the legal standard” and achieve results that would not have occurred through traditional court proceedings. This idea of cooperation creates a major benefit for clients, as it allows them to join together instead of seeing themselves as opposing parties in litigation, if so desired. Mediation and collaboration can help assist parties in dissolving their legal relationship, while salvaging their interpersonal relationship. This is especially beneficial when minor children are involved.

Mediation and Collaboration – What’s the difference?

Mediation occurs through a facilitated conversation involving opposing parties who work with a neutral third party who assists with the exchange of information and ideas. The key to the facilitator’s role is to promote resolution of the issues facing the opposing parties. Mediation is a very good way for parties to save money, which is key in our tough economic times. Court fees are typically expensive and add up quickly, especially when attorney appearances are involved. In mediation, the parties present the issues for discussion with the mediator, which leads to a greater stake in the outcome of the case. A greater stake leads to greater cooperation.

Stephanie P. Feilzer, Attorney and Family Law Mediator can assist you by providing legal counseling before and attorney support during mediation. She is able to counsel clients willing to appear alone with a mediator and opposing party, and is also happy to accompany clients to mediations that involve two attorneys in addition to a neutral counselor. She uses knowledge of law and procedure to assist you in reaching a resolution that reflects both the law and your desired outcome. In addition, Ms. Feilzer can provide Family Law mediation services for you and the opposing party.

In collaboration, attorneys and their clients agree and bind themselves to a written agreement to avoid court litigation. Through this agreement, the parties and attorneys agree to work cooperatively, which in turn maximizes benefits for the parties and family. In collaborative work, issues are resolved through a series of informal meetings involving both parties and both attorneys. At times, the parties will agree to bring in neutral experts to help facilitate the discussion of particular issues. For example, a financial analyst may be brought in to develop a continuing financial plan for after dissolution. Or, often a psychotherapist will be brought in to give advice and help the parties transition from married to single life. It must be noted, however, the most collaborative practice models provide that if either party decides that the process is not working, neither party will be allowed to continue working with the same attorney when the matter returns to traditional court litigation. This may not always be the most convenient model, but it does provide a strong incentive to settle outside of court.

Ms. Feilzer is happy to assist clients in collaborative procedures, and will ensure that our clients understand the process from the beginning. She will meet with the other party and attorney, and go over the collaborative contract to ensure that the principles of collaboration are represented. She recognizes that this method of resolving issues allows the client to have to most control over the process and outcome, as courts will not be there to assist when disputes occur. She is committed to the continued four way meetings until the matter is settled.

Is Mediation or Collaboration Right for Me?

Agreement is key in mediation and collaborative practice. In order for a dissolution to occur without going the rigid, expensive court route, the parties must agree to proceed with either of the alternative resolution procedures. Successful mediation and collaboration involve honesty, trust, and a cooperative attitude. A party wishing to use these procedures should be willing to see resolutions in terms best for the family as a whole, rather than just from his or her own perspective. If any of these attributes or goals matches you and your case, please call today and ask about mediation and collaboration services! Ms. Feilzer is excited to serve the Stockton community with these helpful services.