Category: Mediators

Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Law ?

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As a Divorce Mediator and Collaborative Law Attorney I am often asked what is the difference between mediation and collaborative law? And then I am asked “which process is going to be better for me?” The answer is not one-size- fits all. There are many factors to take into consideration. Each participant in the process has different needs, and couples have different needs and communication styles. I find the following chart useful to describe the both processes and how they differ. It is most important to speak with a professional divorce mediator and a collaborative law attorney to get your questions answered and to assist you in choosing with process best meets your needs. There are many many mediators out there that can help resolve your family law mediation whether it involves divorce settlement or some other issue to be resolved.

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative law?



-Husband, Wife, Mediator.

-Parties can be referred to professionals outside of the process to assist with particular issues such as financial advice, mental health support or evaluations.


-Husband, Wife, Husband’s Lawyer, Wife’s Lawyer meet together at “4-way” conferences.

-May also have Child specialist, Process Facilitator, Financial specialist, coach for either party or other professional to assist.


-Determined by number of sessions and complexity of issues.

-Generally less expensive than Collaborative because the participants pay for one Mediator.

-Usually less expensive than litigation. The participants have more control over time and costs.

-Determined by number of meetings, number of professionals involved, and complexity of issues.

-Generally more expensive than mediation because two attorneys are present at every meeting and the additional professionals are paid for attendance at meetings as well.

-Usually less expensive than litigation because it is more efficient and the parties have control over time and costs.


-Participants may hire an attorney to represent them for advice during the mediation, or after the mediation to review the agreement.

-An attorney is hired to complete the legal paperwork necessary to complete the process.

-Each party has their own attorney present throughout the collaborative process.

-All meetings are “4-way” conferences with both parties and their attorneys present.

-The attorney’s complete the legal paperwork necessary to complete the process.

How do I decide what process is best for me?
There are many factors that impact which process is best for an individual. You should analyze your ability and your spouse’s (other participant’s) ability to negotiate honestly and openly. You should assess your need to have an alpharetta divorce lawyer present with you at the negotiation table, your ability to communicate your needs and wants and to advocate for yourself, and the funds available for the divorce/separation process.

ALWAYS take the time to meet with a mediator and a collaborative attorney to discuss your questions about process and to get assistance choosing the process that is best for you.

[author_info]Julie V Mersereau, Esq. is an experienced Divorce Mediator and Collaborative Family Law Attorney- Contact info: [email protected]; 585-377-5487[/author_info]

Balanced is the New Busy

mini conf photo “Balanced is the New Busy: Practicing Self-Care in a Frantic World”  — Keynote Kristen Skarie.

The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation is presenting a fantastic conference Saturday September 6, 2014 at the Inn on the Lake, in Canandaigua, New York where the Keynote Speaker- Kristen Skarie will speak on the topic “Balanced is the New Busy: Practicing Self-Care in a Frantic World”. This promises to be a great opportunity for to refresh our minds and add new skills to our toolkits as divorce mediators.  The program includes tools for managing mental health concerns, best practices, pensions, spousal maintenance and issues related to the “Gray Divorce” (the over 50 age group).  The venue is right on the shores of beautiful Canandaigua Lake, in the glorious Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York!  We look forward to getting together with our fellow divorce mediators and any other individuals interested in the attending the program.  You can find the registration form online at  Or contact Julie Mersereau, or Barbara Kimbrough at 244-2444 for more information, or email us at [email protected]

If I don’t trust my spouse, how can I mediate?

Erasing Fear

Mediation requires that parties are willing to make a good faith effort to negotiate an agreement which both believe to be fair. It can sometimes be hard to imagine how you can have any faith in a process when you have no faith in the party you need to negotiate with.

Yet, people who have very little trust and even those who hate each other negotiate agreements every day. How do they do it? By focusing on the outcome they hope to achieve.

In divorce mediation, most people have the important goal of minimizing the impact of the divorce on their children. Many also hope to come to a financial agreement that ensures everyone, especially their children, will be alright. Most want to end up with a fair amount of the marital assets and liabilities. With these goals in mind, no matter how emotionally difficult it might become, with the assistance of a skilled mediator most people can arrive at agreement.

Distrust is sometimes simply because one or the other party has not been involved in the day-to-day finances of the marriage. In mediation, parties must agree to provide all financial information. The mediator helps to facilitate the conversation and ensure all documentation is gathered so that both parties can satisfy any questions or concerns they may have. If either party is unwilling to do so, mediation is terminated.

If you do not trust your spouse because you are afraid he or she is going to harm you or your children, you should trust your own instincts and ensure your own safety. If you are in immediate danger, you should call 911. You can find resources to assist you with housing, counseling, and legal services by calling Alternatives for Battered Women, which offers services to both women and men, at 585-232-7353.