All too often, divorce proceedings are driven more by the lawyers than the couples. If your lawyer or your spouse’s lawyer thinks one party has to lose in order for another to win, the only real winners tend to be the lawyers. After all, the more drawn out and contentious a divorce is, the more billable hours they accumulate. This is a dysfunctional system. Do you want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers in the hopes that you’ll be vindicated, or do you want to get on with your lives?
Litigation allows the courts to decide the outcome of your conflict and generally involves an attorney for each party. Litigation is time-consuming, emotionally draining, expensive, and unpredictable. With litigation, you are never certain of your outcome until a judge or jury decides who is right and who is wrong.
By nature of their training, attorneys seek to represent the best interest of their clients. A lawyer can only represent one party, and their job is to advocate for their one client. Thus, when a husband and wife both obtain attorneys, each one seeks to represent his or her best interest. This can quickly lead to an adversarial relationship and a costly divorce.
A mediator, however, is a neutral third party. A mediator helps both sides reach an agreement that is best for both of them. A mediator helps both parties remain in control of the process and the outcome.
The average cost of a traditional divorce is $50,000 if the court is involved. The average length of litigated divorces in the US is upward of 12 months. Mediating a divorce is much quicker—in some cases, it can be done in several three to cases can take four to six months to complete.
Bitter and expensive divorce proceedings can leave both partners with scars (financial and emotional) that take years to heal. If children are involved, the stakes become even higher. Because mediation is about relationships and focuses on the future and the best interests of the children, it is almost always less traumatic for everyone involved.
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time."