Mediation vs. Litigation

Going through a divorce is stressful. But even if the situation between you and your partner is tense, that doesn’t meet you have to endure a long court battle. Choosing the right legal process and having a good lawyer on your side can help smooth the challenges of the divorce process. In this blog, we’ll cover the difference between mediation vs. litigation to help you decide which is right for you.

What is litigation?

Litigation is when a couple must appear in court to settle an issue that both parties cannot agree upon—like child support, spousal support, or how to divide property. A judge will hear both sides of the case and make a decision on how the issue or issues will be settled. By filing a divorce complaint, the petitioner or the filing spouse is asking that the court decide the outcome of the divorce and officially end the marriage through a particular set of legal procedures. 

A litigated divorce ends after a trial overseen by a family court judge. Although spouses can represent themselves in a litigated divorce, many choose to hire lawyers to provide advice, argue their positions, and navigate the court system and its procedures.

Litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, sometimes taking a year or more to resolve and finalize the divorce. During a litigated divorce, the couple can settle at any time and change their case to an uncontested divorce. However, typically most couples don’t settle until after the trial.

What is mediation?

Divorce mediation is a method of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR). The goal is to help couples settle their issues without lengthy and costly court battles. Mediation usually occurs in a relatively informal and non-confrontational setting, such as a mediator’s office.

The mediator does not represent either party but instead acts as an unbiased third party with the goal of facilitating a peaceful resolution. Mediators also do not decide the outcome of the divorce. They instead help the couple reach a compromise and create a marital settlement agreement. Once the couples reach this agreement, they will be able to finalize an uncontested divorce.

The mediation process may be one session, or it may last a few weeks or more. How long divorce mediation takes depends on: the number of topics to be addressed and their complexity, as well as how willing the spouses are to cooperate with each other. 

Mediation provides couples with more control of the process than they would have in a litigated divorce. Although spouses are allowed to have lawyers with them in a mediation session, many choose to represent themselves or consult with a lawyer outside of sessions. Even with the costs covering a mediator and attorneys, mediation tends to be less expensive than litigation. 

DaMore Family Law

Getting a divorce can be one of the most emotional experiences that someone can go through. There are many issues that need to be addressed, including alimony, health insurance, child custody, child support, to name a few. We have the training, experience and temperament to assist you through this difficult and emotional time. Contact us for assistance with your divorce case.