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Mediation versus litigation: What's the difference?

Mediation and litigation are two legal processes that can serve useful in a variety of disputes. Both are available for divorce.

Mediation is a process that is designed to encourage each party to negotiate a settlement that will work best for their unique situation. Litigation, in contrast, is a process that involves a court reviewing the case and making a determination for the couple. There are pros and cons to each. As such, it is wise for couples that are moving forward with a divorce to consider both options.

Why should I consider mediation? A study in the publication Conflict Resolution Quarterly titled Divorce Mediation Outcome Research: A Meta-Analysis, notes that the mediation process often results in a unique agreement. The agreement may be outside of typical divorce settlements because it is tailor made for the couple. It does not focus on what the court would deem just, but instead on what would work best in this specific situation.

Mediation can also be beneficial as it generally costs less than traditional litigation. The Pearson and Thoennes's Denver Custody Mediation Project found couples saved an average of $680 by using mediation.

In addition, mediation can take less time to complete than traditional litigation. The Emery, Matthews, and Wyer's Charlottesville Mediation Project provided data on time saved during this process, noting the average couple was able to complete the mediation process 2.5 to 3.5 months more quickly compared to litigation.

Why should I consider litigation? Although there are many benefits to mediation, there are some situations that are most successful with litigation. Examples include divorce proceedings that are very high conflict and those that involve parties that will not be able to negotiate an agreement. In some cases, couples with assets that are difficult to divide may also benefit from litigation.

What's right for you? When it comes down to making a determination for your future, it is wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can review your unique situation and provide guidance that will help to better ensure a process that preserves your needs.

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  • Wendy helped guide us through a very difficult and emotional process and was really able to provide an even and fair account for both parties. It's quite evident in her expertise in this area but the way she was able to make you feel safe and secure in a very insecure time goes far beyond her legal prowess. If the two parties are really willing to cooperate and collaborate, she's there to help gain the best possible solution for all involved, especially if there are children.
  • Regardless of how committed one is to the fact that divorce may be imminent and necessary, it is truly one of the most emotional and stressful situations one can experience. It can also be daunting. Wendy has a remarkable ability to cut through the noise and help you focus on the big picture while drilling down on what is most pertinent to your particular situation., they are a formidable team who work collectively with your best interests in mind.
  • Wendy and her staff were a delight to work with. During this difficult process I felt confident that the outcome would be fair and balanced, as it did. Very supportive, always well prepared and very knowledgeable. Would choose them all over again!
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