Traditional Divorce vs Mediation: What Should You Choose

posted by Chris Valentine

There were 782,038 divorces and 2,132,853 marriages filed in the span of a single year. Deciding to file for a divorce is no easy decision. It’s not always the first option you can choose from, though.

Instead, you might want to consider divorce alternatives like mediation. What exactly is the difference between divorce vs mediation? Which option is best for you?

Keep reading to find out. In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about the difference between traditional divorce and mediation. With this guide, you can make an informed decision before getting a divorce.

Read on to learn more!

Traditional Divorce

The most common type of divorce is contested, or traditional divorce. In these situations, one spouse will serve the other with divorce papers.

The matter is then handled in divorce court. 

If you can’t resolve your marital issues with your spouse, you might need to resolve these issues in court instead. Going to court and getting a divorce can become a long, stressful process. It could become expensive as well. 

If you plan on filing for a traditional divorce, you’ll need to consider resolving any emotional and financial disputes right away. These situations can include:

  • Child support, custody, and visitations
  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • How to divide your marital property and debt

If you can’t agree on these issues together, you’ll need divorce lawyers before undergoing a contested divorce process. This process involves one spouse filing a divorce petition (or complaint) with the court. 

The traditional divorce process is more familiar to most couples, and therefore more prevalent. You won’t have to deal with improving communications with your spouse. In fact, spouses are usually shielded from one another throughout the process. 

There are some disadvantages to going to divorce court, though. For example, the court will completely drive the process. You could experience financial and emotional losses during this process as well. 

Traditional divorce also won’t teach you and your spouse how to resolve issues on your own. Instead, the decisions are left to the court. These decisions are sometimes considered unfair.

Spouses might decide to hire aggressive divorce lawyers, which can turn the situation into an ugly legal battle. 

This process can take months if not years to resolve.

When to Go to Court Immediately

There are some situations where getting a divorce is in your best interest. 

For example, divorce mediation often only works if both spouses give it a good faith effort. If one spouse doesn’t have a positive mindset about the situation, you might waste time and money. These cases usually involve a combative spouse who refuses to negotiate.

If you think your spouse is intent on punishing you or seeking revenge during the divorce process, consider going to divorce court immediately.

You should also file for a divorce if your spouse is a high conflict individual, an abuser, or a narcissist.

These people are often unwilling to compromise. If your relationship has a history of violence, it might feel difficult to negotiate. Instead, you might want to consider finding divorce lawyers who can help you build a solid case. 

Divorce Mediation

What is the difference between divorce and mediation? While you’ll need to settle a divorce in court, mediation allows you to find a solution outside of court.

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). With ADR, you’ll choose a qualified family law mediator to help you resolve the issues you’re experiencing. 

You’ll work with the mediator to find a compromise for any divorce disputes. You’ll complete this process in a non-confrontational atmosphere. Both spouses get the opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns.

This resolution process allows you to find solutions without feeling defensive or attacked.

Your mediator will help you resolve the same issues the divorce lawyers would. These concepts can include dividing your assets, properties, determining spousal and child support, and child custody.

The mediator will remain completely impartial throughout this process. Instead, they’ll work with both spouses to help everyone reach an agreement. 

Your mediator will help prepare a Property Settlement Agreement. This document is also known as a Divorce or Marital Settlement Agreement. Your agreement will list the specified terms for any issues you resolved.

Make sure to have your own lawyer present to review this agreement with you before you sign it. 

You can view here to learn more about mediation services.

Benefits of Hiring a Mediator

When comparing divorce vs mediation, it helps to consider the benefits of hiring a mediator. 

With mediation, there are usually fewer issues to resolve. As a result, you might find mediation is a less time-consuming process than a divorce. However, it can take a few sessions for you to reach a satisfactory outcome.

Since this process is often faster, you could save money on legal fees. The average national cost for divorce is about $15,000 a person. Costs include court costs, divorce lawyer fees, and the cost to hire any outside experts.

How long your divorce takes can increase the costs as well.

Your mediator won’t take sides. Choosing mediation over divorce can feel like a fairer option for both parties. 

Even with a mediator present, you’ll still make your own decisions. If you hire divorce lawyers, however, they’ll likely argue on your behalf. Your lawyer will likely instruct you on how to proceed. 

With a traditional divorce, any major decisions are left to the judge. Sometimes, that means an unhappy outcome for one or both parties. With mediation, you can decide the outcome together. 

Mediation is also a private process. Only you and the meditator will know what you negotiate. If you decide on a traditional divorce, however, everything becomes a matter of public record. 

Traditional Divorce vs Mediation: How to Make the Best Choice for You

Now that you have a better understanding of traditional divorce vs mediation, consider your options. Understanding the benefits of either can help you make the best choice for your situation. 

Instead of an ugly, messy divorce, mediation could help you find a peaceful compromise for everyone involved.

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