Mediation vs. Collaborative Divorce

Divorce is never easy, but just because a couple's romantic relationship has come to an end, it doesn't mean they can't separate amicably or go on to be successful co-parents.

North Carolina is considered a no-fault state. Providing that at least one spouse has lived in the state for at least six months, and the couple has been separated for at least a year, one side can apply for a divorce without having to prove that their partner is at fault. This starts the whole process on a less antagonistic note.

From there, the divorcing couple will still have to go through the process of making arrangements regarding the family home, the assets and finances, and any child arrangements. Traditionally, couples will go to court, where their attorneys will argue it out before a judge makes a final ruling. However, many couples wish to avoid going to court entirely. By resolving any disputes privately, couples can save a lot of time, money, and heartbreak. Two options North Carolina couples have for resolving their disputes outside of the courtroom include collaborative divorce and mediation.

Collaborative divorce

The collaborative divorce process allows you to avoid court and negotiate the terms of your split with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Couples can commit to a collaborative divorce from day one, and it will take you all the way through from fact-finding to a binding decision. Before the process begins, the parties negotiate ground rules and sign a contract agreeing to avoid a court battle. Both sides will be represented throughout by an experienced collaborative divorce attorney who will work towards a practical solution. Any decisions reached at the end of the process are binding and final.


In mediation, couples hire a neutral, third-party mediator to help facilitate negotiation. It can be a very useful way to help the couple reach agreements privately. The mediator is not there to make decisions, and it's up to the parties whether they reach an agreement or not. Lawyers may or may not be present. If you are unable to resolve your issues in mediation, you can always go to court. Unlike collaborative divorce, this will not require finding new legal representation and starting the process from the beginning.

Which option is right for me?

Both mediation and collaborative divorce can help couples end their marriages in the swiftest, most painless way they can. Collaborative divorce, in particular, will only work if you and your partner commit to the process in good faith. Where collaborative divorce often happens at the outset of proceedings, couples might turn to mediation later down the line. In either case, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement or you think they have been dishonest, you have the option of filing a divorce petition with a North Carolina court. However, if collaborative divorce fails, your collaborative divorce attorney must withdraw, and you and your spouse will have to find new legal representation and start the process from the beginning. Our experienced lawyers can help advise which approach is more appropriate for you.

Experienced North Carolina Family Law Attorneys

Schedule a consultation with our compassionate and caring attorneys who can help you through a more amicable divorce. If you live near the Shelby or Gastonia areas of North Carolina, give us a call at 704-470-2440 or contact us online today.