Mediation or litigation in a divorce?
Everyone would like to move seamlessly through his or her divorce and keep costs as low as possible. Given a couple’s ability to communicate, this is a real possibility, and alternative dispute resolution measures, such as mediation, can present real cost savings. An experienced family law mediator can help the parties’ work through a few minor issues on which the parties disagree and help the parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation can occur over a relatively short period of time and be successfully completed with substantial cost savings as compared to litigation.
However, if you are dealing with a highly contentious situation where parties can’t even talk to each other, let alone reach a consensus as to complex matters related to custody, property distribution, and spousal support, mediation will result in wasted time and resources. It isn’t productive to push for mediation when you know that the other party has no inclination to reach a reasonable settlement. If you insist on proceeding with mediation, before or in lieu of litigation, in a highly contentious scenario, you are almost assuredly raising the costs of your divorce in the end.
Although mediation can provide cost savings, these cost savings aren’t realized if, at the end of the day, the mediation fails and you are forced to proceed with litigation. Therefore, prior to pursing mediation it is important to have a realistic understanding of both you and your spouse’s goals and the degree to which each of you is willing to compromise to reach those goals. If the answer ultimately suggests that a compromise isn’t likely, don’t waste your time and money advocating for mediation.