Mediation vs. Litigation-What are the Facts

divorce mediation versus litigation

Well here it is folks. If you’ve been reading my blog all these weeks, you may have been skeptical about my recommendation of mediation over litigation. Finally, I am offering some hard facts below, about the benefits of mediation. It is my hope that our figures will convince you to consider using a healthier alternative to a litigated divorce.

It’s true, many couples these days are turning towards mediation for a variety of compelling reasons. Mediation is less costly than a litigated divorce, mediation provides answers more quickly than the divorce court, and mediation leaves less destruction in its wake, so there is less emotional cost. The average divorce costs over $20,000. Most divorce lawyers charge $300-$400 per hour and bill for any time spent which can add up. Many mediators, on the other hand, have flat fees and even though billing hourly are much less expensive since there is less time spent.

Another important difference between mediation and litigation is that in mediation you work together with a neutral third party to come to a reasonable solution that fits your family and situation. In litigation you will likely have 20 minutes with a judge who does not know your family or your unique situation and your lawyers will be most likely doing all the talking. It is not possible to come to a solution in that manner where you will be satisfied. The impersonal nature of court and the almost required antagonism is a sharp contrast to the care taken in mediation to keep you and your family mentally intact while going through a difficult process.

The amount of mediation hours required will vary from couple to couple, couples will always come to a decision more quickly than through litigation. So mediation costs less – in more ways than one – than an adversarial divorce. Both proceedings can have a heavy emotional toll on the parties, but if mediation is less expensive and takes place more rapidly than litigation, people are able to move on more swiftly with the new chapter in their lives, and with less financial burden.

One key difference between divorce lawyers and skilled mediators is that mediators do not take sides. They listen to both parties and work to identify solutions for all concerned. Party neutral language is used to reduce the high levels of stress and anger that can arise around most separations. A framework is developed for families to function, and this process is more constructive than what occurs during the typical blame laden divorce proceedings. Since couples are designing their own solutions, there can be some therapeutic benefit to mediation as well.

One study in Iowa revealed that people reported a greater sense of satisfaction in mediation because they are able to participate more fully in the process, whereas the traditional divorce lawyer controls the majority of the proceedings.

Another study conducted by Top Counseling Schools showed that:

  • The average mediation takes 3-6 months to come to an agreement, whereas a divorce can take up to 2 years to become final.
  • 80% of mediated child support agreements were complied with on voluntary basis, versus 40% of litigated child support agreements.
  • Mediated divorces protect all of your personal information, whereas in litigated divorces your personal and financial information become part of the public record.
  • Litigated divorces end up back in court more often than mediated divorce.
  • In mediation, dignity matters!
  • If the mediated case needs to go to court for further judicial analysis, the case typically takes less time than a litigated divorce case because couples have already reached some type of agreement.

The mediators at West Coast Family Mediation Center are here to help you, whether it is to conduct a preliminary discussion on the benefits of mediation, or to guide you and your partner through a number of sessions on how best to divide the beloved contents of the china cabinet which you collected together for years. Our years of experience have given us valuable insight into how to approach each unique circumstance. Our methods are proven to help couples manage this difficult time in their lives and we encourage you to contact West Coast Family Mediation Center today.

by: Jennifer Segura

Jennifer Segura with west coast family mediation center
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