How Is Mediation Different from Litigation?
A divorce can emotionally traumatize you and your children.
Thus, if you are getting a divorce, you must ensure you do it right no matter how overwhelmed you’re feeling. The decisions you make during your divorce proceedings can impact you and your family for a long time, therefore, it’s important to take all the right steps and leave no stone unturned.
But where do you even start?
Spouses who are contemplating or are in the middle of a divorce may come across disagreements that require some sort of resolution. Even if you and your spouse are amicable, respectful, and agree on various terms of your divorce, you may experience trouble finding common ground on many other important matters in your divorce. These matters include child custody and support, alimony, visitation, property division, and more.
So, how do you resolve these disagreements? Mediation or litigation? Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
Mediation in Divorce Cases
Mediation is an alternative to courtroom litigation that involves a mediator facilitating a meeting between divorcing spouses. Mediators are neutral, unbiased, third-party professionals who help couples find solutions to their problems. They do not ensure those solutions and agreements are fair, however. While that would be nice, mediators instead help spouses formulate their own agreements — fair or not — and do not make decisions for either party.
Mediators are not always lawyers, either. While some mediators are lawyers, many are not. As such, you should not rely on mediators to ensure the terms of your divorce documents are legal or satisfy the legal requirements of your divorce matter.
Moreover, mediation is affordable and efficient compared to litigation, especially if both spouses resolve their disputes relatively quickly. It is a cheaper alternative to going to court and having to pay attorney’s fees, court fees, and more. You can work towards a resolution at your own pace and do so confidentially with mediation, which brings us to the next point.
Two key differences between mediation and litigation are confidentiality and control. Every document and discussion remain confidential in mediation, except the only public document is the final judgment. So, if you want to keep your divorce on the down-low, mediation may be a good option for you. You can also control the outcome of your mediation sessions, as you and your spouse make your own decisions rather than a judge.
However, we do not advise using mediation in your divorce if you and your spouse are unwilling to work together. Mediation is a two-way street. If your spouse doesn’t cooperate and makes mediation a nightmare for you, you may want to consider pursuing litigation.
If mediation doesn’t work out, divorce litigation may be your next best option. Spouses who cannot work together in a cordial manner or refuse to listen to each other may resort to the court for help finding solutions to their divorce issues. Further, victims of domestic violence or spouses who have an imbalance in their relationship may feel safer handling their divorce through litigation.
Should you choose this route, expect the judge to make all decisions for you. Unlike mediation, you do not have full control of the outcome of your divorce matters and instead, the judge may issue the final decision on each issue. Even if you hire a good lawyer, you may not achieve the outcome you want. It’s unpredictable.
Since litigation involves settling legal disputes in court, you should also expect to pay a pretty penny. Litigation can be significantly more expensive than mediation, especially if the divorce process drags out for a long time. Be mindful that litigation is inherently longer than mediation, averaging 1 to 3 years, so you may end up spending a lot of money due to the longer timeline of dispute resolution. Thus, you should be prepared to spend a lot more time and money in divorce litigation than you would in mediation.
Divorce litigation is much more public than divorce mediation, as most of your information can become public record. Many spouses aren’t aware that their financial documents, bank information, and business details are available to the general public as a result of going to court.
With all this information in mind, it is in your best interests to get strategic legal counsel from an attorney who genuinely cares about achieving your bottom line, whether it be custody, property division, alimony, and more. At J. Roland Jeter, P.C. your problems are our problems, and we will go the distance to help solve them.
Contact us at (972) 330-4050 to learn more!