Helping You Find Practical Solutions In Divorce And Co-Parenting

How can a mediated divorce differ from a litigated one?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Divorce

Increasingly, divorcing couples – particularly parents — are choosing to divorce using mediation rather than litigation, which has long been the “traditional” method of divorce. Mediation can minimize not just the length and cost of divorce but also its emotional toll. Further, it can help former partners begin to work together as co-parents rather than spouses.

Mediation typically requires that the spouses work out their child custody, support and property division agreements through direct communication with one another, assisted by a mediator, rather than leaving the fate of these issues up to a judge.

Spouses can still benefit from individual legal guidance

Each spouse can and should have an attorney who advises them since the agreements reached in mediation will be legally binding and need to be approved by a court. The mediator isn’t there to side with one spouse or another. Their purpose is to help them identify the issues, facilitate the discussion and move the process forward so they can come to agreements that work for both of them and – more importantly – for their children.

After mediation, a judge has to sign off on the agreements and the divorce decree. However, they won’t get involved in the decision-making as they may do in litigated divorces if a couple can’t agree on one or more terms.

People often envision divorce mediation as sitting in a conference room with their soon-to-be ex and a mediator for days or longer. In fact, mediators often make use of private caucuses when things become heated or the two parties get stuck and can’t agree on something.

Mediation can lessen the chances of having to modify agreements later

Another advantage of mediation over a litigated divorce is that agreements are less likely to need modification later. That’s because couples work them out together. Further, mediators help couples look at the long-term implications rather than just the short-term ones.

In a litigated divorce – especially one where a judge has made decisions – one spouse can be unhappy with one or more agreements and seek to modify them later. Since a judge doesn’t know a family’s situation as well as they do, it’s possible they could end up with an agreement neither side is especially happy with.

If you and your spouse are considering mediation, it’s critical to find a mediator whom you both trust. Talking with some mediators and learning how they work can give you a clearer idea of the process and whether it’s right for you.