Family Mediation, Collaborative or Litigation – Which Divorce Process is Best for You?

Family Mediation, Collaborative or Litigation
Women and Divorce
Wendi Schuller
Author of
The Global Guide to Divorce

There are different ways to get divorced to fit individual needs and circumstances.

With family mediation, divorcing couples are required to have a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAMS to cut down on the cases going to court.

Mediation is particularly helpful for spouses who want to reach their own agreement without the help of divorce lawyers as well as keep the door open for a good relationship post-divorce.

Negotiating can be like a dialogue where husband and wife explain the rationale behind their requests, such as in dividing assets.

They are in control of their outcome with the mediator’s guidance. Although many mediators are also solicitors, they do not give legal advice to either party.

Family mediation can be completed in as few as three sessions and the cost is much lower than in collaborative or litigation process. People who are motivated to work together in discovering a mutually acceptable resolution do well with mediation. Each person can consult with their own solicitor between sessions before signing anything.

Some people who are divorcing difficult spouses may feel more comfortable having their own solicitor during proceedings, as in collaborative divorce.

They have their own personal advocate to guide them through negotiations and look out for their interests. While the collaborative solicitors represent their own clients, they work together as a team to ensure a fair settlement for each party.

We had a collaborative divorce and I still liked my husband’s solicitor when it was finalized. He even gave me ideas for financial help when his client refused to pay any university expenses for our sons. That would not be happening in litigation.

Collaborative divorce brings in experts as needed, such as a financial advisor. Collaborative costs more than mediation but is much less than litigation. Many high profile couples prefer the privacy that is part of the collaborative type of divorce.

There are times where litigation is the way to go.

This is particularly true in abuse cases where a spouse is not going to negotiate face to face with their tormentor.

I interviewed people who divorced spouses with personality disorders and they only felt safe in a court room. Leaving their fate to a judge was just fine for their situations. Hiring a barrister for court and the lengthy proceedings is the most expensive type of divorce.

The court is adversarial in nature and can become a battlefield. Friendlier divorces, such as the first two, make it easier to maintain ties with one’s ex.

Family Mediation, Collaborative or Litigation
Family Mediation, Collaborative or Litigation – Which Divorce Process is Best for You?

The First Directions Appointment (FDA) is the first meeting with spouses and solicitors before a judge who shows what the gaps are in the evidence presented. The time frame for future hearings is set, although they can be cancelled if compromises are reached.

When there are children, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) may interview them and pertinent people to give a report to the judge.

When parents cannot agree, a judge can issue a Residence Order stating with which parent a child will reside, and the Contact Order is the amount of time that the non-resident parent can see them.

Midway through divorce the Decree Nisi is granted.  Spouses work with their solicitors or barristers to complete their financial arrangements in the Consent Order. Witnesses may be called for the Final Hearing where a judge makes a ruling. A decree Absolute is issued and this finalizes the divorce and both are free to get remarried.

For those without children who want a simple and cheap divorce, there are online companies that provide forms and guidance.

Do research to find reputable company who provides solicitors to go over completed forms to ensure all is in order and a clean break is done without any further financial ties.

Another form of DIY divorce is having a court clerk help one to complete necessary forms. Several did this and later met with a judge. Their spouses were amenable to this process, readily agreed to the splitting of assets and signing the forms.

Whatever type of divorce is done, there are aspects which are the same.

A divorce is granted for ‘’Irretrievable Breakdown’’ with one of the following grounds: Unreasonable behaviour (most common), adultery, two years of separation with both parties consenting to divorce, if they have lived apart for five years, or for desertion.

Both parties have to fill out Form E which is complete financial disclosure. After parents have worked out where the children’s primary residence will be and other issues then a Statement of Arrangements for Children is written.

With the different types of divorce, if a couple gets stuck on an issue they may be sent to a Family Arbitrator.

The arbitrator listens to both parties and has more flexibility than a judge would have in deciding an outcome. Their decision is binding. This speeds up court proceedings. Mediators and collaborative solicitors can send clients to arbitration to get an issue resolved more quickly when clients just cannot compromise. This gets the divorce process back on track.

There are resources available to help you during divorce such as divorce support groups,, workshops and weekend retreats.

Churches are realizing that divorce is happening and are also having their own seminars. Divorced people gave me valuable recommendations and advice during my acrimonious one.


Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).

Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.

She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is

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