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What’s the difference between Divorce Mediation and Divorce Litigation?

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Divorce Mediation versus Divorce Litigation (aka going to court)

Cost

Mediation

You control the costs. Most cases settle for under $5,000. Combined.

Litigation

Legal fees can average between $250-$450/hr.  The average legal separation or divorce costs between $24k-$50k. Per person.

Time

Mediation

Mediation typically achieves an agreement much faster than litigation. Often in under than 2 or 3wks.

Litigation

Given the greater complexity and number of steps required, it could take several months, even years, if a trial is necessary.  The average time to receipt of a judicial order is 22 months.

Privacy

Mediation

All discussions and sessions with your mediator are protected and confidential.

Litigation

Everything filed with the court is on the public record and the courtroom is open to the public. That’s full exposure of the most private and intimate details of your relationship, finances and life.

Resolution

Mediation

The single goal of mediation is producing a settlement agreement that both parties can live with. The emphasis is on keeping the process non-adversarial.

Litigation

Litigation pits you against your co-parent. Every issue needs to be ARGUED and resolved based on legislation and precedent as presented and argued by your lawyers.

Decision Making

Mediation

You and your co-parent will negotiate and guide what happens with children with the help of a mediator. Decisions relating to children are in your hands.

Litigation

If you cannot come to an agreement, a judge (a total stranger) will make decisions for your children. The fate of your family is in the hands of a stranger.

Control

Mediation

Together, you and your partner decide on property division, parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and other important matters to your family. Control is in your hands. You will have your own voice.

Litigation

A judge decides on property division, parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and other important matters to your family based on legislation. These decisions may be correct from a legal perspective but they may not be right for you and your family. A lawyer will speak on your behalf.

Education

Mediation

With mediation, you both get legal and co-parenting information in a neutral environment.

Litigation

With litigation, you will each get legal advice only. It will be formulated in a way to “win” against the co-parent of your children.

Resolution

Mediation

You and your co-parent can guarantee the outcome of resolution because you have to be in agreement.

Litigation

Neither your lawyer nor the court can guarantee you a particular outcome. But you will be bound by the decisions that are made for your family.

Moving Forward

Mediation

Your co-parenting relationship and communication will not only survive but could get better.

Litigation

Your co-parenting relationship and communication will be jeopardized by the combative nature of your divorce or separation litigation.

Nature of Resolution

Mediation

Differences are resolved on a positive and enduring basis. Your children will learn that conflicts can be dealt with in a mature and positive way.

Litigation

Conflict and confrontation are used to come to a “resolution”. What does this teach your children?

Final Decision

Mediation

At the conclusion of your divorce or separation, you will receive a legally binding document that you both equally co-authored. The final decisions made are all in your hands.

Litigation

At the conclusion of your divorce or separation, you will get a legally binding document that a judge imposes on both of you. The final decisions made are totally out of your hands.


Blog posts and podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

About the Author

Laura Tarcea

Laura is a family mediator dedicated to supporting families through divorce or separation. With a background in Mental Health, Research, Program Development, and a Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution, Laura brings valuable insight and critical knowledge to parents. She strongly believes that a healthy co-parenting relationship will protect children from short-term and long-term damage. As such, Laura is a supporter of out-of-court processes to help equip parents with appropriate tools to succeed in their next chapter.

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