Divorce Mediation Compared with Divorce Court

Divorce Court vs. Divorce MediationOf course, I have to start off by saying I have an inherent bias towards mediation since I am a divorce mediator. That being said, based on the 1. Massive expense, 2. High levels of stress, 3. Destructive impact on the children, and 4. Amount of time it takes to get through divorce court, it’s hard to see why anyone would voluntarily choose this path over mediation.

First of all, let’s quantify the statements I made above regarding a court-based divorce:

  • Cost — I’ve spoken with many attorneys who agree that $100,000 – $150,000 is a conservative range for a litigated divorce in 2017.
  • Stress — The uncertainty of handing the fate of your finances, your children and your house over to a complete stranger (the judge) in addition to the adversarial, one winner/one loser approach invariably creates a high level of stress among litigants.
  • Children — Having the two most important people in their lives fighting it out in divorce court destabilizes the children’s entire world and often makes them feel like pawns in a game.
  • Time — It’s fairly typical in 2017 for a litigated divorce to take 2–3 years.

* For more detailed information please see Benefits of Mediation

The above are just the most basic, obvious differences between mediation and going to court.

An even more fundamental difference between mediation and divorce court is that mediation can proactively address issues before they become significant problems. For example, we can talk about creative ways to structure support for a parent re-entering the workforce or we can discuss how the parenting schedule might change as the children get older. The courts on the other hand are generally only equipped to reactively deal with problems after they have become significant enough to warrant going to court.

In fact, even many of the court systems are starting to acknowledge the superiority of mediation over going to court when it comes to getting divorced:

“The Superior Court of the County of San Francisco and its Family Law Department strongly encourage the resolution of family law matters through the use of alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Court and the Department recognize that formal adversarial litigation in family law is expensive, time-consuming, and often emotionally destructive for parties and their children. The Court and the Department further recognize that alternative dispute resolution procedures can help parties avoid these undesirable aspects of family law litigation. Accordingly, in an effort to reduce hostility between the parties, facilitate early resolution of issues, minimize expense, and maximize the opportunity for parties to reach mutually satisfactory agreements, the Court and the Department institute this Rule 11.17 supporting and promoting alternative dispute resolution procedures in family law cases.”

More Information

If you’re interested in finding out more about mediation and how it can help you get through your divorce in a civil and affordable manner please feel free to contact us or learn more by reviewing my Divorce Mediation FAQs.