Legal Terms

Essential Legal Terms To Understand


Mediation is a method of dispute resolution that is voluntary, confidential and generally cooperative. It is a noncoercive, neutrally facilitated negotiation to reach a consensual decision. Rather than focusing on conflict, the parties are encouraged to understand each other’s point of view and work toward their common goal of an early, inexpensive and lasting resolution of their dispute. In mediation, an impartial individual with specific training and expertise in communications, as well as dispute management and resolution, helps individuals understand and resolve their differences. The mediator does not make decisions or compel a particular result, but rather helps the parties reach their own agreement.

Most people who use mediation reach agreements because mediation works to clarify positions and reduce misunderstanding and hostility — even for those who are angry or in severe conflict. In fact, in those situations, mediation can be particularly useful. Those who want to resolve their dispute and can speak up for their own needs and interests can be successful in mediation. The only prerequisites to mediation are that the parties know enough about the situation to negotiate intelligently and a good faith interest by all parties in a resolution.

Collaborative Practice

Collaborative practice, including collaborative law and interdisciplinary collaborative divorce, is a new way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without going to court — while working with trained professionals who are important to all areas of your life. The term incorporates all of the models developed since Minnesota lawyer Stu Webb created collaborative law ideas in the 1980s.

The heart of collaborative practice or collaborative divorce (also called “no-court divorce,” “divorce with dignity,” “peaceful divorce”) is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection and guidance of your own lawyers without going to court. Additionally, collaborative divorce allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce coaches and other professionals all working together on your team.

In collaborative practice, core elements form your contractual commitments, which are to:

Divorce is a sensitive personal matter. No single approach is right for everyone. Many couples find the no-court process known as collaborative practice (collaborative law/collaborative divorce) a welcome alternative to the often destructive, uncomfortable aspects of conventional divorce.

If these values are important to you, collaborative practice is likely to be a workable option for you:

  • I want to maintain the tone of respect, even when we disagree.
  • I want to prioritize the needs of our children. My needs and those of my spouse require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
  • I believe that working creatively and cooperatively solves issues.
  • It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
  • I can behave ethically toward my spouse.
  • I choose to maintain control of the divorce process with my spouse and not relegate it to the courts.

See link to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (