Mediation + Collaborative Divorce


New Canaan Mediation Lawyer

Divorce Mediation - What to Expect

Mediation is a process whereby a divorcing couple agrees to utilize the services of a single neutral professional to help them reach an out-of-court settlement, as opposed to each party hiring his or her own lawyer for individual representation.  Our New Canaan divorce mediation lawyers work directly with you and your spouse, serving as your neutral guide for divorce in Connecticut. Our role as your mediator is to help you and your spouse reach a comprehensive agreement resolving all important issues emanating from your marriage, such as property division, alimony, child support, and child custody.

Our New Canaan mediation lawyers have the experience and backgrounds to help divorcing spouses arrive at an agreement that allows both parties to walk away feeling comfortable knowing that the agreement reached is fair and equitable and in the best interest of their children. Our New Canaan mediation lawyers have also successfully mediated post-judgment disputes between ex-spouses.  These issues include the reconciliation of alimony, child support, and/or children's expenses or modifications to a parenting plan after a substantial change in circumstances since the date of divorce.  

Mediation is not a Good Fit for Everyone

While mediation can be a good option for some divorcing couples, it is important to understand that this process is not appropriate in all cases.  This is because a successful mediation process is dependent upon the existence of certain factors which are not present in every case. Our New Canaan divorce mediation lawyers know that for a mediation to be successful, the following must be satisfied:

  1. There must be a high degree of trust between the divorcing parties;
  2. Each party must have a full understanding of all relevant financial issues;
  3. Each party must want to get divorced;
  4. The parties must be willing to approach their divorce with a shared spirit of cooperation;
  5. There cannot be a substantial power imbalance between the parties. Such a dynamic can result in a “stronger” spouse steamrolling a “weaker” spouse who may be unwilling or unable to advocate on their own behalf.

New Canaan Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

What is Collaborative Divorce and How does it Differ from Mediation?

Collaborative divorce is another alternative for divorcing parties who wish to avoid potential litigation.  However, unlike mediation, where a neutral third party facilitates negotiations between divorcing parties and tries to help them settle their case, in the Collaborative divorce model, each party retains his or her own lawyer for individual representation. The Collaborative model is designed to allow divorcing parties to each have a lawyer advocating on their behalf, while also maintaining a shared commitment to work towards a negotiated settlement.

Collaborative Divorce Explained

In the Collaborative divorce model, the lawyers representing either party agree to try and help the parties resolve all issues emanating from a marriage utilizing only cooperative rather than adversarial methods.  As part of this shared commitment to achieve a negotiated settlement, the parties and their lawyers enter into a binding agreement which specifically provides that the Collaborative lawyers working with either party (as well as any other professional Collaborative team members such as neutral valuation experts or mental health professionals), will be disqualified from participating in litigation if the Collaborative process terminates without an agreement being reached.  The theory behind the mandatory “disqualification” element of the process is that it helps facilitate settlement by removing the threat of litigation as an option and as a negotiating tool.

Other essential elements of the Collaborative process include commitments from both parties to adhere to the following:

  1. Both parties must be completely transparent with respect to all financial information and voluntarily disclose all relevant information;
  2. Both parties must pursue mutual problem solving; and
  3. Both parties must work towards arriving at a mutually beneficial resolution. 

The “Cons” of the Collaborative Divorce Model

The Collaborative divorce process is not without downsides.  Many parties who pursue Collaborative divorce believe that it will be faster and less expensive than a conventional divorce.  While that may be true in some cases, in other instances working in the Collaborative model can actually lead to a more drawn-out and expensive divorce process.  Here is why; if the Collaborative process is unsuccessful, each party needs to retain a brand-new lawyer, who must then learn all of the details of your case from scratch.  Whatever time and expense devoted by the parties to the Collaborative process becomes a “sunken cost.”  This is a significant consideration in weighing whether the Collaborative model is right for you and your spouse.

Do I Need to Pursue Mediation or Collaborative Divorce to Avoid Litigation?

Absolutely not.  It is critical for anyone considering which divorce process to pursue to understand that contentious litigation is not, by any means, the only alternative to mediation or Collaborative divorce.  It is estimated that more than 95% of cases are resolved by an out-of-court settlement.  A significant number of such cases are resolved with both parties and their lawyers working collaboratively and cooperatively to achieve a common goal of arriving at a fair and equitable negotiated settlement. 

While all of our New Canaan divorce lawyers are top-notch litigators, we much prefer to resolve cases for our clients efficiently and cost-effectively by working collaboratively with our colleagues on the other side of our cases to reach equitable negotiated settlements.  Working in such a manner with our adversary counsel does not compromise our ability to advocate for our clients zealously in any manner. 

It merely means that we can move cases along efficiently without having our clients (and their spouses) incur legal fees unnecessarily by arguing about trivial issues or causing unnecessary delays. Provided that both parties wish to work collaboratively, and provided that each side is working with the right kind of lawyer, there is no reason why lawyers should not proceed collaboratively.  We work collaboratively and cooperatively as a first option, and litigate when necessary and warranted.

Should you choose to pursue a Collaborative divorce process, our highly experienced New Canaan divorce lawyers would act as your individual representative and advocate, while working with your spouse's lawyer to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. 

Connect with One of Our Experienced New Canaan Divorce Mediation Lawyers Today

Should you choose to pursue a Mediation or Collaborative divorce process, our highly experienced New Canaan divorce mediation lawyers would act as your individual representative and advocate, while working with your spouse's lawyer to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement.  To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our New Canaan divorce mediation lawyers, please call 203-652-8018, or complete our online contact form.

The Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot


The Family Law Firm of Healy + Eliot is a boutique firm devoted exclusively to the practice of family law, including divorce, alimony, child support, property distribution, child custody and access, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, modifications and enforcement proceedings.