To negotiate, litigate, mediate, or collaborate, that is the question. The answer depends on your case specifics and objectives, and oftentimes includes a combination thereof. As in any strategic endeavor, no viable options should ever be foreclosed upon or otherwise excluded from the quiver.
In the context of family law, negotiation and litigation are inherently intertwined and are not mutually exclusive. As in any conflict, it is oftentimes most economical and effectual to negotiate resolution than to fight for an unknown outcome. Even if all of the disputed issues cannot be resolved, negotiation can limit the scope of litigation, allowing the litigation attorney to focus more resources where needed, while consuming less time and fees. When negotiation does not work, it may still work in the hallway outside of the courtroom, as it is not uncommon for issues to be resolved by meet-and-confer between counsel and parties, prior to or even during a contested proceeding. If negotiation ultimately fails, "Stop... Hammer Time!"
Mediation involves the use of a singular, neutral attorney (possibly a retired judicial officer) to play both sides against the middle, in an attempt to secure compromises from both. It is advisable for both parties to be represented by their own counsel during mediation, to ensure that there is an objective explanation and consideration of rights and responsibilities. If the mediation is unsuccessful the mediating attorney is conflicted-out and may not represent either party unilaterally. Mediation is for the most part absolutely confidential. A failed mediation can be very expensive, given the cost of the mediator in addition to the ensuing litigation on that which was not resolved.
Collaboration or Collaborative Practice is a relatively new concept, whereby both parties and their counsel work together to resolve issues. There exists an interdisciplinary team, including a divorce coach, a financial specialist, and possibly a child specialist. Each of the participating professionals, including the attorneys, must meet various training requirements in order to participate in this process. Like a mediation, the attorneys must withdraw if the process fails. Unlike mediation, there is no automatic confidentiality pursuant to statute.
At Antonyan Miranda, we can and will do any of the above, and more.