Confusing signIn many of my blogs, I discuss how mediation and collaboration are effective divorce planning alternatives compared to court-room litigation.

While both are inexpensive compared to litigation, these are actually two very distinct processes, and it’s important to learn about each one in order to choose the best solution for your situation.

The information below is excerpted from a article by attorney Emily Doskow.


  • With divorce mediation, the only people necessary for the process are the mediator, you, and your spouse. You can pull in other professionals if desired, but it’s not required.

  • Mediators do not decide your case; they help you and your spouse to find solutions acceptable to all parties.

  • You have unlimited input on your case because you work directly with the mediator to determine the process and details of your divorce.

  • Since only three people are involved for the most part, mediation can be more cost-effective and time-saving than collaboration. You’re not trying to schedule and pay for the time of attorneys or other professionals.

  • Some states require confidentiality agreements for the mediation process. This is currently not required for collaborative divorce in any state. If you’re in a state where confidentiality laws exist and it’s important to you, mediation might be the better choice.


  • In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by a collaborative attorney and these attorneys guide all facets of the case, making this process right if both parties want a divorce lawyer to look out for their specific interests throughout the case.

  • Couples struggling with communication issues or animosity often feel better having an attorney who can help them communicate more effectively or speak for each of them when needed.

  • Spouses and attorneys meet together to discuss issues, with the attorneys taking the lead.

  • The attorneys will advise the parties when they feel other collaborative professionals are needed to help resolve issues, freeing the spouses from making that decision.

  • At the outset, attorneys and spouses sign a “no court” agreement to help ensure the divorce is settled without litigation.


As with any type of practice, both mediation and collaborative divorce have disadvantages.

Says Doskow, “The primary downside to collaboration is that if it doesn’t work, your collaborative lawyer is required to withdraw, and you have to start all over with a new lawyer and possibly new experts and advisers. This means a lot of expense and delay while you get your new lawyer up to speed and retain new professionals.”

If mediation fails, you may also have to start over and will lose any money you’ve already spent on the process. “If you are concerned that mediation might not work, you should be sure you hire a consulting attorney who can go the distance with you,” suggests Doskow.

These are two very sound options for a more “reasonable” divorce process, but get all the information you can before making your choice. Contact me to learn how my practice supports both of these divorce processes and which one is right for you.


Erin BirtIllinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

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