How Collaborative Differs from Pro Se Mediation

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
February 17, 2023

Collaborative and pro se mediation methods are increasing in popularity. It’s for good reason too, as more divorcing couples look to preserve relationships and customize their settlements while reducing conflict. As a collaborative family law and divorce mediation firm, ROAD to RESOLUTION is committed to helping clients save time, money, and unnecessary emotional turmoil. Our legal team is experienced in out-of-court settlement through collaborative and pro se mediation methods. While the options have some similarities, they are different and can determine the course of your divorce.


Collaborative: Each spouse hires their own collaborative divorce attorney. These attorneys represent each client’s individual best interests.
Pro Se Mediation: A mediator can be an attorney or non-attorney. Either way, the mediator serves as a neutral third-party and does not represent either party.

Legal advice

Collaborative: An attorney is able to provide valuable legal advice while guiding clients through important information.
Pro Se Mediation: A mediator can provide information throughout the divorce, but they're ethically barred from providing legal advice to either party.

Balance of power

Collaborative: Maintaining a fair balance of power throughout a divorce can be a challenge. When there's an imbalance of power, a collaborative divorce attorney can step in and help effectively equalize and diffuse the situation.
Pro Se Mediation: A mediator serves as a peacekeeper and facilitator. If there is an imbalance of power, they use mediation and conflict resolution tactics to guide the couple through disagreement.

Legal documents

Collaborative: A collaborative attorney can draft all of the legal documents needed throughout the divorce process. In addition to filing the divorce, collaborative attorneys can also draft prenuptial, postnuptial, separation, and custody agreements.
Pro Se Mediation: As a neutral party, a mediator is ethically barred from drafting the legal documents required to make the negotiated agreement between the parties legally binding.  Instead, the mediator drafts what is called a mediation summary.  One party then takes this summary to an attorney, who will reduce it to a legally binding document.  

Professional support

Collaborative: With a collaborative divorce, there are a number of collaboratively trained professionals available to support clients, either individually or together, during the divorce process. This often includes financial experts, child custody specialists, therapists, mediators and/or coaches.
Pro Se Mediation: In conventional divorce mediation, couples generally work with one mediator.

Negotiation assistance

Collaborative: Collaborative divorce clients will receive assistance in negotiating their divorce, no matter where they are in the process.
Pro Se Mediation: In mediation, professional mediators help guide the divorce negotiations, but they can’t legally assist or provide direct advice to either party involved in the divorce.

If you’re looking for someone to serve as a legal advocate, who solely represents you and your best interests, collaborative divorce may be the better option for you. Collaborative law attorneys will work to create a positive and supportive atmosphere for you and your spouse. The goal through collaborative divorce is to reach a fair and balanced resolution without the threat of future litigation. As stated in our previous blog, What to Expect from the Collaborative Divorce Process, both spouses win in collaborative divorce. An agreement is reached where both spouses benefit, rather than fighting through litigation where only one spouse wins. It is widely recognized as a respectful approach with long-lasting mutual benefit. When you engage the help of a collaborative divorce attorney, you’ll have access to legal support and additional resources specific to your personal needs.

I’m a collaborative law attorney and certified mediator. My journey in this industry began when I experienced divorce first-hand through litigation. After realizing the excessive stress that it caused my children, my ex-husband, and myself, I knew there had to be a better process. Inspired to help others, I founded ROAD to RESOLUTION as a non-attorney mediator. I later earned a Juris Doctor, passed the North Carolina Bar, and became a collaborative divorce attorney as a way to offer a full range of services to my clients. I believe that hiring an attorney with experience in both collaborative law and mediation is beneficial, no matter which method you end up choosing.

Interested in learning more about collaborative divorce?

If you have specific questions about how a collaborative divorce might work in your unique situation, please don’t hesitate to give ROAD to RESOLUTION a call at (980) 260-1600. Our Charlotte-based team of legal experts is ready to help you. Our mission is to offer support and guidance to you and your family.

(Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice. For more information, please contact

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
Founder and Principal Attorney

Related Articles

Collaborative Divorce: The Legal Side of Conscious Uncoupling

Attorney-Mediator Robin M. Mermans is dedicated to guiding you through the divorce process from a place of experience and empathy, to help ensure that your needs and concerns are addressed every step of the way.

Robin M. Mermans on the Divorce Podcast by the Divorce Lending Association

Robin M. Mermans joined The Divorce Podcast host Adam Coleman, CDLP®, to share how she found her way into Collaborative Divorce, her insights on the process, and the advantages of this alternative approach to traditional divorce.

Newly Divorced in the New Year: What to Expect with Collaborative Divorce in North Carolina

Are you starting the new year knowing you want or contemplating divorce? While this decision can be difficult and emotional, ROAD to RESOLUTION can help guide you before, during, and after the process.

Contact our law firm today to schedule an initial consultation.