What Is the Difference Between Mediation and Litigation?

During your Sacramento divorce case, you may hear the words mediation and litigation. These are two different legal processes. Your divorce might involve one or both types depending on the situation. In general, mediation is a faster and cheaper process compared to litigation. Mediation can be as formal or informal as you and your spouse desire. Mediation does not involve a judge that resolves issues for you. Instead, you, your spouse and a mediator will work out the terms of your divorce collaboratively. Determine which option is right for your divorce case during a discussion with a Sacramento family law attorney.

What to Expect During Mediation in California

Divorce mediation in California is an out-of-court process that could save you time and money. You and your spouse do not need to arrange a court trial in Sacramento County to divorce via mediation. Instead, you will meet together in a room within the courthouse, or a different setting of your choice, without a judge overseeing the meeting. Mediation will involve you, your spouse, your attorneys (if applicable) and an unbiased third-party mediator. The mediator is typically someone from a community organization or mediation panel in your community. The mediator will not have a say in the final resolution of your case.

Mediation is a problem-solving meeting. During mediation, you and your spouse will have total control over the terms of the Sacramento divorce. The mediator is there to facilitate productive conversations and offer potential solutions to your problems, not to make decisions for you. A mediator will not force you to agree to the aspects of your divorce. You can only reach decisions during mediation if you and your spouse both agree to them.

Working with a mediator can help you see things more clearly, compromise with your spouse and settle disputes. If you and your spouse can agree on all the terms of the divorce, you will draw up a contract for a judge to sign. If a judge agrees that your divorce meets the parameters of California’s related laws, he or she will sign off and finalize the divorce without you needing to proceed to trial. Most couples prefer mediation, if possible, as the faster, easier and less expensive divorce option. Mediation also keeps you in control of the outcome of your divorce case.

Divorce Litigation in California

Litigation is a court case. It resolves you and your spouse’s divorce-related disputes by presenting both sides to a judge and letting him or her make the final decision. You will not have the last word in the terms of your divorce case during litigation. Instead, the judge will decide property division, child custody, child support and alimony. Most couples try to resolve their cases through all other pre-trial means before proceeding to litigation. Litigation is generally the longest, most expensive and most emotionally stressful way to resolve a divorce case. It is not always possible to avoid litigation, however, depending on the case and couple.

Litigation might be necessary if you have a complex or high-value divorce case. It can be more difficult to resolve these types of divorces during mediation, arbitration or collaborative meetings. Both parties involved may not be able to agree on the terms of the divorce in complicated cases. You and your spouse might need to go to court to resolve the issues your unique case involves instead.

Litigation is most common in cases involving couples that cannot cooperate, one spouse that is being unreasonable or unusual issues. Hire one of the best Sacramento divorce lawyers if your case has to proceed to the litigation or trial stage. A lawyer can protect your rights and help you present your side of the case clearly and effectively to a judge. A lawyer could also help you during divorce mediation or arbitration. Discuss your unique case with a divorce lawyer near you to decide which route is most appropriate.