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If you are like many Americans facing divorce, you may have serious concerns about how the court process will affect your family as well as your finances. Divorce litigation can be time-consuming, expensive and contentious.

Mediated and collaborative divorce are two forms of alternative dispute resolution that may help you and your spouse navigate your separation while minimizing conflict as well as costs.

1. What is divorce mediation?

During divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained family law mediator who acts as a neutral advisor. In addition to helping you communicate your concerns and expectations, he or she may be able to provide creative solutions for negotiating issues of property division, child support and future co-parenting.

2. How is collaborative divorce different?

In collaborative divorce, both you and your spouse may retain your own lawyer. However, as with mediated divorce, both sides agree to negotiate a resolution out of court and prioritize compromise over conflict.

3. What are the benefits of settling out of court?

Both mediation and collaboration require patience, honesty and a problem-solving mindset from both parties. However, if you and your future ex can agree to negotiate rather than litigate, these unique divorce alternatives may help you to reduce overall costs, resolve your differences in a private setting and protect your children from emotional stress.

Also important is the fact that both mediation and collaboration allow you and your spouse to maintain control of the outcome throughout the separation process. Rather than relying on a judge to make decisions on your behalf, these alternatives may afford you the time and considered thought you need to build a solid foundation for the future.