Headed for Divorce? How to Choose Between Mediation and Litigation

The decision to get a divorce takes time and consideration. The next decision to make is whether mediation or litigation is the better path for divorce proceedings.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and spouses need to consider specific factors in their marriage before making a decision.


Mediation is a popular choice for many couples. The HuffPost discusses that during the process, a neutral third party, known as a mediator, guides the couple through negotiations regarding debt and asset division, child custody, living arrangements, and spousal support. Some big advantages of this method are that it costs significantly less than a courtroom battle and it is less emotionally taxing.

Although spouses do not need to get along in order for mediation to be successful, they do need to be willing and able to communicate openly and honestly. They each must be willing to compromise and negotiate what is best. The mediator has conflict-resolution skills and is able to offer creative solutions when the couple is unable to agree on something.


Although mediation is a good choice for many couples, it is not the right path for everyone. Money Crashers outlines some situations in which litigation is the better option for a successful and fair outcome. If one spouse is abusive, either emotionally or physically, it is better to involve the court, as there are more protections in place for the victim.

Litigation is a better option if one spouse suspects the other is not going, to be honest, and forthcoming about assets, income, and property holdings. A judge can require full disclosure, while a mediator does not have this ability. Relationships in which addiction is a factor also do better in a litigation setting. Someone with addiction issues is unable to make proper decisions because judgment and reason are lacking.