In mediation, there is one trained ‘neutral’ who helps the disputing parties try to settle their case. The mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot help either side advocate its position. Mediation is a facilitative process, and it works best when the parties have a strong desire to find middle ground solutions, and do not have strong disputed issues.
Collaborative Law was designed to deal more effectively with conflicts in divorce, while maintaining the same absolute commitment to settlement as the sole agenda. Each side has quality legal advice and advocacy built in at all times during the process. Even if one side or the other lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding, or is emotionally upset or angry, the playing field is leveled by the presence of the parties’ own attorneys dedicated to the collaborative process. It is the job of the lawyers to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable, to make sure that the process stays positive and productive, and on course to settlement.