Mediation is a form of legal problem-solving that keeps you out of the courtroom. Litigation, on the other hand, is when you rely on the court system to solve your legal issue. When compared to litigation, the mediation process presents a number of benefits.
First, mediation is significantly less expensive than litigation. In a mediation, you and the other party, like the parent of your child or your former spouse, are responsible for paying only the mediator for their services. You can, of course, hire an outside attorney to consult on your mediation case, but this is at your discretion and not often necessary.
Litigation, however, can get very, very expensive. You and the other party will probably need to hire an attorney to help you build your respective cases, conduct depositions, and draft declarations and legal briefs. This can mean thousands of dollars – at a minimum – in lawyer’s fees for each of you.
Second, the mediation process puts you in charge of the pace and scheduling of the resolution process. Because you are collaborating with only the mediator and the other party, it is much easier to schedule mediation sessions on days and at a pace that works for you.
However, if you decide to litigate your case, you are at the mercy of the court’s schedule. This means that you are assigned court dates that may not necessarily work for you or your job. The pace of resolution is determined by the length of the court docket, so your case may take years, rather than months, to resolve. (And you can expect a pretty significant bottleneck in cases due to the pandemic).
Third, mediation is a client-driven process that allows you to design your own legal outcomes. Because the process is collaborative, the final mediated agreement will be more representative of your values, provide some degree of closure, and be more durable in the long term.
When you choose to litigate a case, you place all decision-making power in the hands of a judge. This means that someone who doesn’t know you well will decide deeply personal and individual questions like “What is in the best interest of my child?” or “What value have I added to my spouse’s business after all these years?”
Because of the cost and adversarial nature of litigation, it often leaves the parties feeling embittered, unsatisfied, and emotionally spent.
Mediation, however, reduces the emotional and financial costs of otherwise high-conflict legal disputes and leads to more sustainable solutions that stand the test of time. And it prioritizes the long-term, collaborative relationship between the parties; after all, if you have children, you will need to co-parent with your ex for the rest of your life. And even if you don’t have children, you will be better served by a resolution process that is respectful, fair, and at its best, healing.