Divorce Litigation vs Mediation: What’s the Difference and Which Is Right for You?

Although the overall divorce rate is on the decline, 746,000 couples still filed for divorce in 2019.

In some cases, couples merely say their goodbyes and go their separate ways. Other divorces, though, are much messier and more complicated. If the couple can’t agree on certain decisions, they may need the help of a divorce mediator.

The two terms get thrown around a lot, but exactly what is divorce mediation vs litigation? And if you’re at the beginning of a less-than-amicable divorce, which option is better for you?

Keep reading to find out.

What Is Divorce Litigation?

When couples can’t agree on child custody, asset division, or other major decisions, they may opt to let the courts decide for them. In legalese, this is known as divorce litigation.

As you would expect, this is often a lengthy and expensive process. The couple and their lawyers appear in court (usually many times) to present their arguments to the judge. If children are involved, they may also need to appear and answer questions.

Why would someone choose this route during a divorce? Litigation could be a wise choice if:

  • The other parent is “unfit” for custody of your children
  • Your spouse is physically or emotionally abusive
  • Your spouse tried to hide or undervalue assets
  • You’re being pressured to accept unfavorable terms

Litigation may be the only way to get what you want from the divorce, but it’s not without its drawbacks. During litigation, your personal information becomes public record.

And ultimately, it’s up to the judge to decide the outcome, which may (or may not) work in your favor.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

So then, what is divorce mediation?

This simpler process leaves a judge and courtroom out of the equation. Instead, you’ll use a neutral third party known as a divorce mediator to help settle the details of your divorce. Although the mediator cannot give legal advice (you’ll still need a lawyer for that), they¬†can help you to remain civil and keep your priorities in order.

During divorce mediation, you’ll discuss common concerns like child custody and visitation, division of assets, and child support or alimony. Since you’ll make decisions civilly and mutually, each spouse is more likely to hold up their end of the deal.

A bonus of divorce mediation is that you retain full control of the decision-making process. This can be a huge source of relief for couples that worry about leaving their fates (or the fates of their children) in the hands of a judge.

Many couples also opt for divorce mediation because it costs considerably less than litigation. Your private life also remains private, so there’s no need to worry about public records.

Divorce Litigation vs Mediation: Which Will You Choose?

The benefits of divorce mediation are clear, but this may not be the best choice for every couple. If you’re not sure how to choose between mediation vs litigation, ask your attorney for their recommendation.

Now that you’re well-versed in divorce litigation vs mediation, what comes next? Our site has more helpful articles like this one, so stay right here and keep reading!


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