Mediation vs. Litigation: What Is the Right Path for Me?
Divorce is never a desired outcome for any marriage. If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, there are two main paths to take to separate yourself from each other. Divorce often involves intense negotiations. It can also feel as though the stakes are high, especially when property and finances are involved. When it comes to divorce, some couples make this decision amicably. In other circumstances, the situation may be more complex.
When it comes to your specific divorce, your two main choices are mediation or litigation. What type of divorce depends on what works best for the two parties involved. Both options will determine the best way to divide what assets you have and determine any custody issues or required support. Regardless of whatever path works best, you should be able to reach a mutual decision. You should also be able to determine child custody and support. Either path will also help determine how to separate property, assets, and debts. Understanding the differences between mediation and litigation can help determine which path is ultimately best for you.
According to California law, mediation is not mandatory as it is in other states. While it isn’t mandatory, it is still an excellent first step in any divorce. It is ideal for couples who wish to go their separate ways without getting the court system involved. By using mediation, the couple ultimately decides on the terms of their divorce. It gives them the ability to hash out the details themselves, which can help ensure that both parties end up with an agreement they find mutually fair and beneficial. It also saves the separating couple a lot of time. Going through the court system can add undesired time as you often wait on court dates provided by a judge. These dates can also be changed and pushed back for no apparent reason. This method is also often less costly and ultimately more effective.
When taking the mediation approach, you’ll often want to find a divorce mediator. This is a person who is a neutral, unbiased third party. This mediator does not act like a judge who decides who gets what. This individual is there to facilitate discussion. Their main goal is to help you resolve the dispute. Mediation is also a private affair. Litigation is a public record and can be viewed by anyone. Mediation is kept between you, your separating partner, and the mediator. For mediation to work, both parties must be open to discussion. This is usually only possible when the divorce is amicable and both parties see the need to separate. While this may seem ideal, it simply isn’t always the best fit, depending on your situation.
If you and your spouse cannot utilize mediation for whatever reason, your alternative is litigation. This uses family court to resolve the issues you were unable to resolve on your own. This process relies on the court to reach terms that you and your partner could not do amicably. Trial proceedings are often necessary for cases that are adversarial and involve serious conflict. Divorces can involve various disagreements, but some of the most common forms of disagreements revolve around aspects such as child custody. This can involve which parent has residential custody. It can also include what form of visitation rights is desired by the non-primary parent. It can also include means of child support. Other disagreements can involve spousal support, also known as alimony. In the state of California, there are numerous reasons a person may apply for spousal support. This includes the inability to work, the necessity to obtain training to work, and having become accustomed to a particular way of life. Litigation may also be the better choice if it is necessary to separate assets and debts acquired throughout the relationship.
California is a community property state, which means that all property and assets are divided equally in the instance of divorce, assuming that a prenuptial agreement wasn’t filed that would state otherwise. Utilizing litigation is often best in circumstances that potentially involve an unfit parent or if there have been instances of abuse or violence throughout the marriage. There is also the issue of any concealed assets that one partner may have hidden from another. Litigation is also ideal in circumstances where one partner feels pressured to accept terms that are not desirable.
Divorce is never easy, but no one should ever settle for terms that could harm their lives. The truth of the matter is that litigation can involve more stress, especially without solid legal representation. This form of divorce often always takes longer, but it may be necessary for both parties to feel that their terms and conditions were not only heard but also taken into serious consideration.
What Path Should I Take?
When it comes to deciding what path is best for you, self-reflection and understanding are necessary. If you and your partner have reached this decision together, and if the lines of communication are still open, mediation may be the best solution for both of you. If you feel that your relationship is rocky and the communication channels are blocked, litigation may be your best bet. Litigation may also be ideal for those who have a lot to try to separate.
Even on good terms, it may be difficult to divide property and assets without the help of legal representation. In circumstances where children are involved, this may also provide a difficult scenario for deciding what is best for all parties involved. If you are unsure what path may be best for you, it is important to turn to an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your options.
Call an Experienced Team of Attorneys
The attorney team at Bickford, Blado, and Botros is here to help. Their staff of experienced attorneys can help to direct you in whatever path works best for your specific situation. We can advise you on whether litigation or mediation is the best path forward for your situation. If litigation is necessary, you can trust that our team has the aggression necessary to ensure you are represented fairly.
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