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How mediation differs from litigation

California couples who are getting a divorce might want to consider mediation over litigation. There could be a number of advantages to this more civil approach. For example, litigation may be more time consuming and expensive. Furthermore, once a decision is made by the judge during litigation, there is usually little recourse for changing it. However, control is in the hands of the couple during mediation.

In mediation, a neutral third party, who may be a social worker, a mental health worker or in some other field, sits down with the couple to talk about their conflict. With the mediator's help, the couple tries to reach a resolution. The spouses may or may not have their attorneys present. There may be an advantage in having legal counsel available in that the attorney might be able to make suggestions. A party might also want to have an attorney review any agreements from mediation before they are signed.

Discussions during mediation are confidential, and this means that one spouse cannot use information learned during mediation against the other spouse. While the mediator may make recommendations, these suggestions are non-binding. If mediation does break down, litigation always remains an option.

Another potential advantage of mediation is that it can reduce conflict between parents, and this can be better for children. Mediation might give parents conflict resolution skills that can help foster a positive co-parenting relationship. In addition, a couple may reach a solution for property division that suits them better. For example, one person might be particularly attached to the family home and want to keep it while another would prefer to hold on to an investment account.

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