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Comparing Collaborative, Mediation and Litigation

Unfortunately, many marriages don’t last the test of time. Each couple has a unique relationship, meaning each divorce is unique as well. There are several divorce options for couples seeking to separate in the state of Maryland and it’s important to understand each option and choose what is best for you and your family. Fortunately, divorce often doesn’t occur in a courtroom and is instead decided upon through many meetings and conversations. Seek out assistance from an experienced divorce lawyer in Maryland to learn more about the various options as it pertains to your situation.

The three main options for a divorce outside the courtroom are:

  • Collaborative
  • Mediation
  • Litigation

We will go over each option to give you a better idea of which may be right for you.

  • Cost: Litigated divorce is typically the most expensive. The part of divorce that costs the most money is paying attorneys. When each party has their own attorney and there is a lot of disagreement, each divorce lawyer in Maryland will have to do more work therefore billing more hours. If the decision ends up in court, this means more attorney hours at a higher rate, as well as court fees.
  • Time: Since litigated divorces involve many meetings fighting out who gets what and often leads to court, which notoriously takes a lot of time. This is the longest option.
  • Satisfaction: If the divorcing couple can’t agree in meetings, the decision will be made by the court. This means the fate of a divorce is left in the hands of a person or persons who can never truly understand the relationship or needs of the family. This is likely to lead to at least one, and often both, parties being unsatisfied with the results.


Mediation is a process in which the couple works with a person called a mediator to work out the details of the divorce. The mediator helps guide discussions by introducing issues that require resolution. The mediator acts as a sort of referee – making sure each side is heard but not passing judgement or making decisions. The mediator is meant to act as the facilitator of discussions. Whether either party has an attorney during this process is up to each couple.

  • Cost: Mediation is generally the least expensive option. If the couple is on pretty much the same page and can reach an agreement somewhat easily, there is often no need for any divorce lawyer in Maryland at all, greatly reducing costs.
  • Time: Mediated divorces can take a while, but it depends on the schedule of each party and how many issues need to be resolved. Since there can be disagreements even when a relationship is friendly, this can make the process take a bit longer.
  • Satisfaction: Since the couple agrees enough to use mediated divorce, it is likely each individual will be able to come out of the process as satisfied as one may hope to be after a divorce. The laid-back nature of the proceedings allows each party to remain comfortable during an uncomfortable process.


In collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by a divorce lawyer in Maryland trained in a specialty called Collaborative law. The terms of divorce are negotiated in a series of meetings. This is similar to the mediated form of divorce, but has a bit more structure since each party has their own attorney. Just because attorneys are present doesn’t mean the conversations have to be nasty. There is a general agreement that each party will be completely honest and disclose all relevant information. It’s also generally agreed that information disclosed in these meetings is not used against the other party should talks devolve into litigation. Collaborative divorce also involves other neutral professionals, such as financial analysts and divorce coaches, to help the process along.

  • Cost: Collaborative divorce is more expensive than mediated, since lawyers are involved, but is typically less combative than in litigated divorce. Having a less combative interaction and avoiding court will keep costs lower. Depending on how many additional professionals are brought in, collaborative divorce proceedings typically end up costing somewhere between mediated and litigated divorces.
  • Time: Similar to a mediated divorce, the time a collaborative divorce takes depends on the couple. Having more issues to resolve and bringing in more experts will extend the process.
  • Satisfaction: With individuals who are unfamiliar with the rights of spouses during divorce, it can be helpful to have experienced divorce attorneys and the advice of outside experts. Everything is kept neutral and both sides have a representative that understands the law and can guide each party. This can make things a bit more fair if one party has the upper hand, even if it’s unintentional. This can give both parties satisfaction as it encourages a fair result.

Seek Legal Advice

Each couple and each divorce is unique. Even if you think you know which form of divorce is best for you and your family, it can be a good idea to speak to a divorce lawyer in Maryland familiar with family law. This can further educate you about each option and help you decide which route to take.


The Burton Law Firm understands how divorce can affect you and your family’s life indefinitely. Having years of experience handling all types of divorce cases throughout the state of Maryland, you can trust us to handle your case with care. Give us a call at (301) 420-5540 to speak to a divorce lawyer in Maryland.


Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of Family Law attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.