In a divorce, there are two primary routes you can choose. Today, Mediate Don’t Litigate offers the first half of our guide, Divorce Mediation vs. Court. While I might be a bit enthusiastic about mediation, I do understand that under certain circumstances, you may truly feel that litigation is your only option. Here, I present the facts comparing both so that you can make the best decision for your situation.
When it comes to divorce mediation vs. court, there are 10 key factors to consider. Today, I’ll cover the first five. Ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you want to focus on the past or the future? To make a decision for you, a judge relies on past facts. Lawyers will gather evidence, such as a mound of documents and even witness statements, to convince the judge where to assign blame and responsibility in order to “win” the case for their client. In mediation, you leave the past behind and focus on the future. While the discussion can touch on what’s transpired between you and your spouse, a mediator will steer the conversation towards resolving disputes and reaching a mutually satisfying agreement.
- Do you have a highly flexible schedule and time to spare? If you go the court route, you’ll be forced to adhere to a judge’s schedule and docket. And courts are only open during standard hours, Monday thru Friday. That means you’ll be the one who needs to take time off work, hire babysitters, or rely on friends and family to shuttle the kids to soccer practice. Until everything is finalized, life will revolve around the court’s calendar. A mediator can be more accommodating, offering evening meetings and weekends if a situation requires it. This limits any interruption in your work schedule and parenting time.
- Do you want your voice to be heard? In a standard courtroom divorce, lawyers will do most of the talking for you. They may ask you questions, but rules do not allow you to speak freely and provide the judge with a full understanding of your position. It’s typically a strategic narrative carefully designed to win your case. With divorce mediation, both sides have the chance to speak and be heard in a non-adversarial way. This you a better understanding of each other’s viewpoint which typically leads to faster and more streamlined decision making.
- Do you potentially want to wait years to finalize your divorce? When it comes to divorce mediation vs. court, remember that litigation can be a slow process with rules that must be followed. Court dates are set months in advance and a trial can last weeks or years. You’ll have to wait for a judge’s ruling and possibly go through appeals. With a capable mediator, you can work through all disputes and issues in a fraction of the time. A mediator will guide you through all the issues and work through everything without the constraints of courtroom procedure.
- Do you have a bottomless bank account? While there are a number of attorneys who offer a sliding scale or more affordable rates, a courtroom divorce can still put a severe financial strain on both parties. As mentioned in #2 and #4, litigation takes time. There’s the discovery phase, research, motions, briefs and preparations for trial – the time and money spent on your divorce case will add up quickly. On the other hand, mediation offers fewer restraints and you can move at a whatever pace both parties are comfortable with.
At Mediate Don’t Litigate, I know there’s a lot to consider when deciding divorce mediation vs. court. I hope this guide provides you with the insight you need to make your choice. For further assistance, I encourage you to request a consultation so that we can discuss your needs and situation.