Before you get divorced, there is a decision you must make: mediation vs. litigation. Are you going to take your case to court, or are you going to try to settle things with your former spouse? Both of these options have their benefits, but the right choice for you might not be the same as someone else. You should consider how your choice will impact your life before making it.
Costs for both mediation and litigation vary, but generally, mediation costs much less. While costs for mediation services range from several hundred to a few thousand dollars, litigation can cost upwards of $30,000. Mediation typically consists of a consultation, a few meetings for negotiations, and the preparation of legal documents, including the settlement agreement itself. Litigation is much more complex, requiring more time and effort on the part of the attorney, thus the higher costs. Depending on your financial situation and what you stand to gain or lose in the divorce process, one or the other will fit your needs.
How Litigation Works
A litigated divorce usually goes like this:
Each spouse hires an attorney to represent them. In the initial stages of divorce, the attorneys try to resolve any issues through negotiation. If one or both parties cannot agree on the terms of a settlement, the divorce then goes to court. The court date is then set and each side prepares their case. Preparation for the case often includes preparing evidence and arguments and finding and retaining expert witnesses as well as regular witnesses. After each side presents their case, the judge then decides the outcome concerning child custody, child support, and time-sharing (if any children are involved), as well as alimony and the division of assets and debts.
You might be wondering why anyone would choose litigation over mediation—mediation is faster, cheaper, and both parties can control the outcome to an extent. The truth is that mediation requires the cooperation of both spouses. If one or both do not come to the bargaining table with the right mindset, litigation is all but inevitable. In certain situations—such as when one spouse has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse—litigation can be the best option to protect the other spouse or any child dependents.
Mediation vs. Litigation: Get the Help You Need from an Experienced Attorney
Whether you and your spouse have agreed to a divorce or you want to seek a divorce on your own, finding an experienced attorney who knows the mediation and litigation processes can help you get the outcome you want. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, get in touch with me today.