If you are considering divorce, there are two routes you can take: filing uncontested or filing contested (which involves litigation). When you file uncontested, you and your soon-to-be-ex iron out and agree upon the terms of your divorce, including our custody agreement, alimony, property and debt division. Filing contested, on the other hand, means you cannot agree and must rely on the court to decide on your divorce settlement.
Compelling Advantages of Mediation
If a couple struggles to agree on the terms but still wishes to avoid litigation, they often consider divorce mediation. In addition to giving a couple more control and autonomy over the outcome of their divorce, divorce mediation has many pros, including:
- Being a faster resolution. Divorce litigation can take a lot longer than mediation. As we discuss in our previous blog, “What’s the Fastest Way to Get Divorced in PA?” a contested divorce can take up to a year (or more) as you have to wait for court hearing dates and the court schedule; you also have to factor in the time it will take to collect and present findings in court. However, divorce mediation allows you to file uncontested and complete the process within about six months. The exact time it will take is dependent on the pace you, your soon-to-be-ex, and the mediator set.
- Protecting your privacy. Divorce records are publicly accessible, and a person can request a copy of or view the information in your divorce file at a local courthouse. What you discuss with your mediator will not be included in these records—just the final determinations. However, with litigation, what you discuss in court and what the other party presents in court will be publicly available information once the case concludes.
- Saving you money. Many clients’ first question is whether mediation is cheaper than divorce, and the answer is yes, mediation allows couples to save a lot of money. With mediation, you will typically only need to cover half of the mediator’s fees, filing fees, and your attorney fees.
- Letting you control your schedule. With a contested divorce, you will be given hearing dates by the court and must adhere to the court’s scheduling. Divorce mediation allows you and the other party to have more control over your schedule, which can help you avoid having to take time off work.
- Allowing couples to remain amicable. At the end of mediation, couples may feel empowered to better communicate and negotiate with one another, which is a great bonus for couples who plan to co-parent after divorce.
Disadvantages of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation isn’t always the best option for divorcing couples. Whether mediation is right for you will depend on your case specifics. Divorce mediation has some disadvantages (or cons) that may influence your decision to pursue mediation, such as:
- Mediation is more costly than filing uncontested. Filing an uncontested, no-fault divorce yourself can be cheaper than mediation as you eliminate mediation costs. However, if you are considering divorce mediation, you likely have struggled with having productive conversations with your partner and need the help of a mediator in ironing out the terms of your divorce.
- Mediation is not a productive option for couples with power imbalances. If either spouse is a narcissist or is known to be abusive (emotionally or physically), they may be unwilling to compromise at all, and the other party may not feel safe, even with the mediator present, to share their ideas and opinions.
- Mediators are not attorneys who negotiate on your behalf. A mediator acts as a neutral third party and is there to help couples peacefully reach an agreement that works for them both. During mediation sessions, they will work to ensure each party gets to share their wishes and that terms in the final agreement are reasonable and fair. However, unlike your attorney, they are not there to solely advocate for you.
- Mediation is a voluntary process. While this may not seem like a con, it can be if one party wishes to try mediation but cannot get the other party to agree. Unlike with divorce, mediation cannot proceed without the voluntary participation of both parties. It is important to note that in child custody cases, the court may require a couple to attend mediation to try to agree, and they may interfere in other cases.
Get Legal Help
William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys is equipped to help you or a loved one determine whether mediation is right for you and connect with a divorce mediator. With over 20 years of legal experience, our attorney can honestly assess your case and advise you on whether mediation may work for you. If you decide mediation isn’t right for you or your case, we can also represent you in court and help you develop a personalized case strategy.
Considering divorce or divorce mediation? Contact our firm today by calling (215) 515-9901 to speak with a member of our team.