No one likes divorce. It is a stressful and emotional experience for both sides. Litigation can make it worse because of its adversarial nature. The parties argue their sides and the “winner” prevails. That mindset can fuel more resentment and lingering anger even after the divorce is over. In contrast, mediation focuses on finding common ground and compromising which, often times, results in a better divorce experience during and after the divorce. In addition, parties in mediation often report they are more satisfied with the process and their settlement.
- Less expensive and faster. Litigation is a formal process subject to extensive information requests, evidentiary rules, deadlines, objections, extensions, busy court calendars and the like. These kinds of formalities typically extend the time to resolve the dispute as well as make it more expensive. A divorce may go on for years as a result of the litigation process. Mediation is subject to fewer rules and formalities with the intention of it being more cooperative. Parties are not at the mercy of the formalities of litigation. They can address issues more quickly and efficiently which can save time and money. During mediation, the parties are able to review and assess all of the information and options available to them related to their financial and co-parenting lives, and make informed decisions themselves as opposed to a court.
- Control. Mediation is an out of court process where the parties are empowered to make decisions. Either party can decide to end mediation at any time. The mediator doesn’t decide matters or impose a settlement. Instead, the mediator helps facilitate discussion, reduce hostility and achieve consensus.
- Mediation affords parties a safe private setting to discuss and, hopefully, resolve their issues. As opposed to being in open court, the mediation process only includes the parties and a mediator. As such, all discussions remain confidential.
- Improved communication. Although the parties are, of course, encouraged to raise issues during the mediation process, successful mediation keeps the focus on constructive problem-solving. A good mediator can guide a couple in coming to decisions while assisting them in airing grievances so they don’t get bogged down in emotion. Even where there is significant strife between the parties, mediation can be used to facilitate
- Better for children. Prolonged conflict hurts children emotionally. Mediation can help parents focus on the best interests of the children and resolve issues more effectively so they can turn to helping their children adjust to the divorce.
While mediation is not right in every case, where appropriate, it can help couples achieve a more peaceful and satisfying outcome. Divorce doesn’t have to be a battle with a winner and a loser. It can be a resolution where everyone gained something and can now move forward to the next stage in their life.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss whether your matter would be best served by mediation or litigation.