What Is The Difference Between Mediation And Litigation?
Family law covers divorces, child custody and visitation, alimony or child support, and a variety of other disputes among family members. But seeking legal assistance for these issues does not have to include going to court for resolution. More and more families are opting for mediation instead of litigation.
What is the difference between mediation and litigation? The big difference is how the resolution of a family dispute is decided. In mediation, a dispute is resolved by negotiation, which is based on the needs and interests of the parties involved. In litigation, the resolution is based on legalities and laws.
In both mediation and litigation, a third-party is involved in helping to resolve the issues; however, in mediation, the third-party is a facilitator who acts as a “go-between” to help parties negotiate a resolution. In litigation, the third-party makes the final decisions. Mediation processes are also informal and flexible while litigation is more formal and must follow rules and specific procedures. Litigation is also public, while mediation can be private.
What are the benefits of mediation over litigation? In litigation, the decision-making is often based on exertion of rights ending in a win/lose battle. Negative emotions are more common in litigation than mediation. A mediation facilitator is a neutral party that guides participants in working out solutions that are agreeable by both parties. This makes the whole process much less stressful and encourages the parties to get along.
In divorce cases, where children or asset division is involved, cases that otherwise may become antagonistic or quarrelsome, can often be transposed into quiet, friendly negotiations when using family law mediation. Mediation processes can be completed quickly or take months, depending on the situation, but the timeline is flexible. A mediation process may include a team of different professionals to address different areas of concern, such as financial, psychological and legal.
While mediation does not require an attorney, before signing any mediation agreements, you will want to have an attorney review them, so it often works out best to use a family law attorney from the beginning who provides mediation services. They can provide legal advice and answer questions about the law. They also have the resources to recommend or bring in other professional facilitators as needed.
Source: British Columbia Ministry of Justice, “Family Mediation,” accessed April 22, 2015