There are many ways to resolve disputes. Litigation is the traditional legal approach. In litigation, lawyers work hard to convince a judge that his or her client's version of reality is, in fact, correct. Often, this includes contradicting, or even belittling, the other client, and that person's perception of reality. Trial is often compared to a battle, in which the best side wins. However, all lawyers understand that the "best side" doesn't always win and that in many disputes, the side that "wins" at trial still loses in other ways. In some circumstances, however, litigation may be the only appropriate option. For example, if a client consistently hides information or is abusive, the formal procedures used in litigation may be necessary. If a client is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, the ultimate decision may need to be imposed by a judge. Litigation usually costs more than other forms of dispute resolution and the outcome is typically less satisfactory.

In mediation, a neutral professional assists the clients in settling the dispute. Generally, the clients agree that all information will be shared and that they are seeking a "win-win" solution. The mediator does not represent either client and the clients do not go to court. In some forms of mediation, each client's attorney serves only in a consulting or reviewing capacity. In other situations, attorneys participate in the mediation. Mediation can work well for clients who have the ability to communicate their needs directly to the other person and who have sufficient experience with the facts to understand the information being presented.

Collaborative Practice combines the positive qualities of litigation and mediation. As in litigation, each client has an independent attorney who will provide quality legal advice and will assist in putting forward the client's interests. Drawing from mediation, the clients and their Collaborative Attorneys commit to both an open information gathering and sharing process and to resolve their differences without going to court. In addition, the parties mutually agree to engage other professionals such as Divorce Coaches, Child Specialists, Financial Specialists, Vocational Counselors or other neutral consultants to provide them with specialized assistance. The clients acknowledge that the best result for each of them will occur when they reach the best result for all of them.