High-asset divorce involves large stakes, so it is natural that it also often involves conflict. However, conflict may result in a long, drawn-out, costly battle, which hurts both sides.
Mediation and collaborative divorce are options that may help avoid this. Both allow you to skip the litigation process and negotiate your own terms, but they have differences that mean one choice may be better for some than others.
1. The representation
One of the biggest differentiators is the people involved in each process. In a collaborative divorce, both you and the other party retain your own legal counsel at the start to represent and advise each of you. They may suggest involving other professionals, such as child psychologists, as part of the agreement-reaching process. Mediation generally involves a single neutral arbitrator who helps with negotiation. There is the option of obtaining legal counsel or other professional aid, but there is no obligation to do so.
2. The agreement
In a collaborative divorce, you must sign a collaborative law participation agreement. This is simply an agreement between the lawyers, you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to negotiate in good faith. You may end the agreement when you wish. Mediation does not involve such an agreement.
3. The flexibility
Negotiations end whenever you or the other party wants it to in both processes. However, in collaborative divorce, once they fail, both collaborative lawyers must withdraw. New ones must participate if you want to resume collaborative divorce proceedings. Mediation does not come with this constraint.
Neither collaborative divorce nor mediation is better or worse than the alternative. What is best for you depends on your situation and relationship with your divorcing partner.