Divorcing couples often don’t see eye to eye over dividing marital assets, determining child custody and setting child or spousal support levels. However, most are willing to work together to find a fair outcome as fewer than 10% of all divorces go to trial.
Most parents put their kids first and try to make the divorce process as painless as possible. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Before you make up your mind whether to pursue mediation or litigation, you should consider several factors.
Weighing negotiation vs. letting a judge decide
When a marriage becomes contentious, spouses often want to have their day in court, especially if their partner was unfaithful or neglectful. However, emotions should never dictate the process. Instead, assess these four primary considerations:
- How long will it take?: Settling your divorce can take a few months, while litigation typically lasts a year or more. Going to court means adjusting to the judge’s calendar, more meetings with your lawyer and more time lost from work. In mediation, you control when and where you meet.
- How much will it cost?: The longer the process takes, the more it will cost. Expenses related to litigation can easily creep well into five-digits. Each case is different, but mediation is typically much lower, running a few thousand dollars in California on average.
- How much stress can I handle?: When a divorce lasts longer and costs more, chances are good that anxiety will rise as well. You have little control over a trial’s outcome. However, with mediation, you are in charge of the process, and the details remain private.
- How do I get the best outcome?: While mediation is always a kinder and gentler process, litigation may be necessary if one or both spouses refuse to negotiate over dividing assets, setting support amounts or determining how much time they should spend with their kids.
Always put your kids’ best interests first
Lastly, remember the way you end your marriage will likely dictate the tone of your future parenting relationship. Working with an attorney who understands how mediation works can help you resolve your differences mutually and create a framework for respectfully resolving future parenting conflicts.