WATCH: What is the difference between a litigated divorce and a mediated divorce?

By Marta J. Papa
February 10, 2016


Read the transcript of this video below.

Litigation is a process wherein both parties, husband and wife, each hire their own attorneys to represent their separate interests in Court.  If the parties cannot come to their own agreement regarding how to divide their property, agree on a parenting plan for their children and plan for future financial needs, their attorneys try to settle each of these issues.  If the attorneys cannot settle these issues, the case is set for trial.  Both parties typically testify at trial and the Judge renders a judgment on all unresolved issues.

Litigation is helpful when the parties cannot agree on all the issues needed to conclude their divorce.  Sometimes it is difficult to agree because one party refuses to negotiate in good faith with their spouse.  Other times, one party may feel less powerful than their spouse and litigation allows that party to have an attorney advocate on their behalf.  Whatever the case, circumstances may be that an attorney is essential to receive a fair outcome.

A downside to litigation is that it can be a lengthy and costly process.  However, it ultimately resolves all the issues so the divorce can be finalized.

Mediation is a different process that parties can use to resolve the issues of divorce.  Mediation differs from litigation in that the parties make their own decisions about how to divide assets and debts in a way they think is fair, how to parent their children and how to distribute future income so that each party has enough money to support themselves.  The parties arrive at these decisions by meeting with a mediator who explains their legal options, helps them negotiate with each other fairly and then drafts the parties’ agreement into a legal document that is signed by the Judge, granting their divorce.

Mediation can be appropriate when both parties are ready for the divorce, have common goals and can easily communicate with each other.  Unfortunately, not everyone can mediate.  For instance, some parties are just not able to sit in a room together, calmly, and discuss issues regarding their divorce.  In addition, mediation is not appropriate in situations where there is a significant disparity of power between the parties or where there has been spousal abuse.  In the absence of these issues, mediation can be a viable alternative for you.

If you are facing divorce, it is important for you to know that you have options regarding how you proceed through the process and you should pick the option that best meets your goals and concerns.

Marta J. Papa has been helping clients navigate the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of divorce for over 25 years. Known widely as the Divorce Whisperer®, she has successfully completed over 4,000 mediated divorces and is considered an authority on mediation nationwide. Recently, through a Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly poll, she was voted by her peers as one of the “Best Divorce Attorneys in Missouri.” She was also elected by both her peers and Martindale-Hubbell to the “Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers” in recognition of her accomplishments as a St. Louis divorce attorney. 

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February 10, 2016
Categories:  Legal Issues|FAQs|Videos

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