The Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation Over Litigation

The Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation Over Litigation

By Lisa RisnerJuly 19, 2021

Divorce mediation is a popular alternative to litigation because it allows the couple to make important decisions between themselves instead of allowing an outside party to make the decision.

For many couples, litigation is one of the most stressful parts of a divorce. Attorney fees add up and the process involves strangers looking into your personal life.

Not every couple is a good candidate for mediation, but you may be surprised at how effective mediators can be at facilitating a productive conversation. 

What is Litigation?

Litigation is when a divorce goes to court. Normally, this option is reserved for people who aren’t able to meet and discuss the terms of their marriage amicably.

Instead, the court will look at the details of the marriage and financial situation. The court will make important decisions on how to divide up assets, child support, and child custody.

People tend to choose litigation if they consider their spouse to be an unfit parent, there are abuse allegations in the marriage, they suspect there are concealed assets or any other major conflicts.

What Is Divorce Mediation? 

Divorce mediation gives couples the chance to sit down together and discuss the terms of their divorce together. Crucially, mediation involves a trained mediator who is neutral in the situation and can help the two parties find fair compromises.

People typically choose mediation over litigation because it allows them to avoid all the inconveniences of the court system. A good mediator will help guide your discussion, but won’t make judgments about your situation or the best course of action.

This process is optional in California, but it’s mandatory in some states. Here are the pros and cons of mediation. 

Pros of Mediation

Couples that are looking for a way to stay in control of the divorce process often choose mediation. It has several advantages over litigation, 

More Affordable

Many mediators offer their services for a flat fee. That means you won’t need to stress about racking up hours as time goes on. Instead, you’ll be guided through the process by someone who understands the legal system and wants to help you find a fair, reasonable compromise.

Many mediation services will also file divorce paperwork on your behalf and ensure that everything goes through smoothly. 

Speedier Results

Courts can take a long time to make decisions. Part of the reason for this is because they need to follow standards set by the law, and it may take time to interpret the law and apply it to your situation.

Litigation also involves a lot of bureaucracy, and it involves far more people than mediation. Mediation is kept between the couple and the neutral mediator. The couple already knows the details of their relationship, so they can move faster than a court would.

Mediators are professionally trained to help people find satisfying resolutions, and you may be surprised at how much time that shaves off the process. 

Collaborative Decisions

Mediation has a focus on making decisions together, with input from both sides. You and your spouse are the experts on your relationship, and this process will help you make informed decisions on how to proceed after divorce.

Instead of leaving the decisions up to a judge, you can figure out which solutions work for you.


Mediation also allows you to keep your marriage and your assets private. Going through a formal legal route means that most of your divorce will be a public record, potentially including the intimate details of your parenting life and assets.

Cons of Mediation

Divorce mediation is a wonderful alternative to litigation for many couples, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Here are some of the reasons people may choose not to pursue mediation.

At the end of the day, it’s important to make the best decision for your specific situation.

Parties Must Be Willing to Cooperate

The biggest drawback of mediation is that the two spouses must be on speaking terms. They need to be able to communicate with the help of a neutral mediator.

Not all couples in the process of divorce will be able to work together in this way. However, mediation requires spouses to communicate and come to a resolution together.

Mediation doesn’t work for all couples, and those who are on bad terms might not be able to go through with mediation. This is a situation when litigation is the better option. 

Mediation is Neutral

When you go to a mediator, that person's entire role is to act as a neutral party who will help you negotiate your agreements. For some couples, that’s perfect.

It may not be the best option if you’re hoping to have someone on your side, helping you advocate for your own interests. If you suspect your spouse is going to ask for unfavorable, unfair conditions, and you’re not sure you’ll be able to deny them, mediation might not be the best option.

An attorney hired by you alone will advocate for your interests only, and fight against your spouse’s attorney in court. This is the option for those who aren’t open to compromise.

Requires Trust in Your Spouse

Mediation is an informal, optional process, so the court isn’t directly involved. That means your mediator is going to take your word for things instead of investigating them.

If you don’t trust your spouse, you may not want to have to divide up your assets and make other financial decisions without legal backing. A mediator may not be able to uncover hidden assets or expenses, for example.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets or something else, you may want to speak to an attorney before proceeding with mediation. Your attorney can help you determine whether or not your fears are founded, and whether or not litigation is the best option for you.

Mediation is an affordable, faster alternative to litigation. It provides couples the chance to make decisions about their finances, child custody situation, and more, all with guidance from a trained professional.

We’re proud to offer flat rates and fast service to make divorce as painless as possible. For fast, affordable divorce mediation Irvine City, contact us at Divorce Mediation of California today.

369 San Miguel Dr #100, Newport Beach, 
CA 92660, USA
© 2024 Divorce Mediation of California, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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