Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mediation, Collaborative Law or Litigation: What's your Vote?

One of the first things I explain to clients in our initial one hour divorce consultation is that there are three types of professionals in Massachusetts who can help clients resolve their divorce case: Mediators, Lawyers trained in Collaborative Law, and traditional Litigators. Each of these methods has strengths and weaknesses, and they can be demonstrated by showing you how some well known couples might have experienced these various options:

Couple #1 - The Cleavers. Ward is a businessman and June is a stay-at-home mom. They have two children Wally and Beaver. Ward handles all of the finances and June handles most of the home care including parenting, although once in a while Ward is needed to help discipline the children (in a very stern but fair kind of way).

Couple #2 - The Huxtables. Cliff is a doctor and Claire is a lawyer. They have five children. They both share in parenting and managing the finances. Cliff's office is located in the home.

Couple #3 - The Honeymooners/The Kramdens. Ralph is a bus driver and Alice is currently unemployed but has worked as secretary at times when Ralph has been laid off. They have no children and Alice is primarily responsible for the management of the finances. Ralph often gets involved in ridiculous schemes that Alice claims have wasted their money. Ralph and Alice often insult each other, and Ralph makes constant threats such as "One of these days... Pow! Right in the kisser! One of these days Alice, straight to the moon!."

Please Vote for whether each couple should use mediation, collaborative law or litigation, by leaving your Comments below.

P.S. Thanks to DGVElaw for giving us the idea for this post with her estate planning couple.


  1. couple #1 = collaborate law
    couple #2 = mediation
    couple #3 = litigation

  2. My bad - thought you were going to demonstrate what would happen to each family using each technique. In that case, #1 - mediate, #2 - collaborate, #3 litigate (in collaboration w/a trained domestic violence advocate for Alice)

  3. Cleavers - Mediation. Because there seems to be a clear division of marital tasks but at least some mutual ground (discipling the children), the parties might be best served using a mediator to find a practical and lasting resolution.

    Huxtables - Mediation or Collaborate Law. Depending on the current level of communication between Cliff and Claire, they might find the most agreeable situation through a more conversational form of conflict resolution.

    Kramdens - Litigation. Because of the constant threats of violence and sharp disagreement as to how the marital assets have been spent, Alice's interests and physical well-being might best be protected through litigation.

  4. Huxtables - Litigation. The fact that each has an extensive private professional practice may result in extensive (and possibly contentious) valuation problems. Although the families finances are transparent, each may require their own advocate to ensure full and accurate financial disclosure of the other, balanced against protection of their own significant professional interests. Given the assets involved, litigation may be worthwhile. The fact that both parties have counsel does not mean the process will be overly contentious, only that each is adequately protected.


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