When parties sign up for a collaborative divorce, they essentially are both emotionally and financially committing to never go to court. You certainly have the option of backing out of the collaborative agreement and hiring a new lawyer, but it almost always seems a better choice to try “one more round of mediation” than to start over from scratch with a new lawyer.
My experience is that if the parties both have attorneys who are focused on trying to settle the case, then cases settle quickly no matter what process you use. Often, multiple rounds of mediation are usually a sign of a more significant underlying problem, being that the parties just can’t reach an agreement because they have radically different opinions of what is fair.
By being stuck in a collaborative process, when divorces reach a point where the parties are having to engage in multiple rounds of mediation, the process can drag on indefinitely. It is not uncommon for collaborative law cases to drag on for two, three, even as long as four years. I have seen this on many occasions where the parties just couldn’t reach an agreement, but couldn’t rationalize starting over after all the money and time they had put into their divorce case.
While court is stressful, it at least gives the parties firm deadlines to work around. You will ultimately have a trial date, and one way or another the case will either settle by that date or the judge will decide it for you.
More often than not, when parties are stuck on an issue that they simply can’t agree on, as you get closer and closer to trial people get more and more willing to compromise to avoid that all scary court date. With the collaborative process, you don’t have that deadline to pressure you into finalizing your case, so you can be stuck in divorce purgatory for years and years hoping the other person changes their mind, because they are behaving unreasonably.