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How to weigh mediation vs. litigation in high-conflict divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Family Law |

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for settling a divorce. Just as each family is unique, various paths exist for resolving a split, even if the process is contentious.

One decision a couple must make is between mediation and litigation. These two approaches have differences that can significantly impact the proceedings and outcomes.

Mediation: Seeking a collaborative resolution

Mediation is usually a more cooperative way to resolve disputes outside of court. A neutral third party serves as a mediator and helps the couple communicate and reach agreements. A primary benefit of mediation is its focus on fostering open dialogue and preserving relationships, even in high-conflict situations.

Mediation also has the potential to reduce emotional stress, which can have long-term health implications. Couples can discuss their concerns and offer solutions that work for both parties. This collaborative approach could open the door to a more amicable split, which is especially important if the couple has children.

Additionally, mediation tends to be faster and less expensive than litigation. Since the couple does not have to depend on the court’s schedule for hearings or stick to formal legal procedures, the process can be more efficient.

However, mediation may not be suitable for every high-conflict divorce. If there are significant power imbalances or if one party is uncooperative, mediation may not be effective in reaching a fair outcome.

Litigation: Opting for a resolution in court

Litigation relies on the court system to decide key matters. Each party presents its case before a judge, who makes the final decisions on unresolved issues.

In high-conflict divorces, litigation can provide a structured environment for addressing complex legal issues. It also ensures the protection of each party’s rights in accordance with Arizona law.

Still, litigation tends to be more time-consuming and expensive than mediation. Plus, the adversarial nature and formality of court proceedings can also escalate conflicts and strain relationships further.

In either situation, the goal should be to find an approach that promotes fairness, efficiency and minimal emotional distress. Both procedures have their advantages and drawbacks. A couple must align their goals and needs to choose the appropriate method for handling a divorce.