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Divorce VS Mediation: What’s The Difference?

Jim Robenalt Dec. 13, 2023

Divorce VS Mediation: What’s The Difference?

Every year more than 630,000 couples get divorced in America. So if you are facing this huge life change, you are not alone. 

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally stressful time. It requires a lot of practical planning. You and your ex will have to divide up your assets, figure out where to live, and negotiate spousal support. 

However, there is no set way to do this. In fact, choosing between Cleveland divorce versus Cleveland mediation depends a lot on your personal circumstances. 

So what is the difference between divorce and mediation? If you are planning to separate, understanding your options will help you choose the right route for you. In that case, you’re in the right place — read on to find out everything you need to know about divorce vs mediation.

What Are the Different Types of Divorce? 

It might surprise you to find out that there are several different types of divorce in America.

All of these seek to produce similar outcomes. This usually involves dividing up property and organizing spousal support. What sets them apart is the way in which you reach these outcomes.

All American states now grant no-fault divorces. This means that you can divorce your spouse without having to prove that they have acted to damage the marriage. In this case, most parties cite “irreconcilable differences” as their reason for divorce. 

That said, it is possible to get a fault divorce in two-thirds of states. In this case, your grounds for divorce might include adultery or cruelty, for example.

Your reason for getting a divorce can have an impact on how a court divides up your assets and awards alimony. Fault divorces are generally more complicated. However, they can leave you in a stronger financial position if a court rules in your favor.

Once you know whether you are going to file for a fault or no-fault divorce, you can start to consider different types of divorce. So how does mediation play into this? Let’s take a closer look at what the divorce process can involve and how it compares to the mediation process. 

What Does the Divorce Process Involve? 

When you decide to end your marriage, there are several practical steps you must take. This usually involves: 

  • Deciding on the terms of your divorce (who will get what and alimony arrangements, for example) 

  • Filing your divorce with the state 

  • Negotiating the terms of your divorce (if you cannot agree on them) 

  • Getting your divorce finalized by the state 

Some divorces run very smoothly, while others will be more complicated. This usually depends on how much you and your ex agree on the terms of the divorce. 

Uncontested and collaborative divorces, for example, occur when both parties agree on the terms. These tend to be much quicker and cheaper. In fact, the couple may not even hire lawyers and file the paperwork themselves instead.

Default divorces are also reasonably quick. Courts grant these when one party fails to respond to the divorce summons. In that case, the filing party gets to set the terms of the divorce. 

However, most divorces involve some degree of negotiation. These are known as contested divorces and involve both parties hiring divorce lawyers.

Lawyers will act on behalf of each party to negotiate a good deal. If you cannot come to an agreement, the court may send you for third-party arbitration. If this does not work, the court will make a final decision based on the case you present to them.

So, where does mediation fit into all of this?

What Does Divorce Mediation Involve?

Mediation is a type of dispute resolution service that couples looking to separate can use. Mediators work a little like an arbitrator, but this is the couple’s choice rather than a court-mandated service. 

A mediator is a third party with experience in family law. They work with both parties to help them set out the terms of their divorce. This includes discussing: 

  • The division of assets 

  • Child custody arrangements 

  • Spousal support and alimony

  • The sale of marital property

You can decide to use a mediator after filing for divorce. Or you can use one to reach a Collaborative Agreement.

This legally binding contract outlines the terms of separation and terminates your marriage like a divorce does. However, you and your ex will not need to file for divorce or hire attorneys during this process.

Of course, if you are on good terms with your ex, you can reach a Collaborative Agreement without a mediator. However, it can help to have a third party involved. They will make sure that your needs are heard and represented properly.

Who Can Act As a Divorce Mediator? 

Some family law attorneys also work as mediators in the divorce or Collaborative Agreement process. However, not all mediators have to be attorneys. 

Instead, it is important to find a mediator who you communicate well with. They should also have plenty of experience. A great mediator can successfully guide you through the divorce or separation process.

Choosing the Right Process For You 

Choosing between divorce lawyers and mediation depends on your personal circumstances. So it is important to think carefully about what you want to get out of your separation.

There are also several other factors that you can consider to help you decide. Let’s take a closer look at these.

The Relationship You Have With Your Ex 

First and foremost, you need to think about the relationship that you have with your ex.

Mediation can be a great way of staying on good terms. It gives you time and space to hear one another out during the separation process. So it can have a positive impact on your relationship after your divorce. 

However, this involves you having ongoing contact with your ex. If you are filing for a fault divorce or have been in an abusive relationship, mediation might not be the right option for you.

Your Emotional Wellbeing 

Your emotional wellbeing is also important. However, looking after this is easier said than done.

To reach a Collaborative Arrangement, you may find yourself compromising on your needs. Or you might find standing up for yourself overwhelming. 

It is important not to put yourself under too much emotional strain though. A mediator is there to support you both throughout the process. They will act fairly on behalf of both parties. 

In comparison, if your ex isn’t willing to negotiate at all, mediation will be more difficult. In that case, it might be time to lawyer up.

How Much You Want to Avoid Your Divorce Going to Court 

Hiring a lawyer can help you fight for more favorable divorce terms. However, it does also introduce an element of risk. 

If you and your ex cannot reach an arrangement then your case could end up in family court. When this happens, a judge will have the final say on the terms of your divorce. So you will lose control over the process. 

On top of this, you may have to pay additional lawyer fees and court fees.

Your Divorce Budget 

Getting divorced is not a cheap process. In fact, the average cost of a divorce in America is between $15,000 and $20,000

This is because lawyers will charge you an hourly rate for their services. This includes meetings they have with you and the time they spend building your divorce case. 

They will also charge you for the time they spend responding to your ex’s negotiations. So your ex could try to make the divorce process very expensive for you. 

In comparison, mediation is much cheaper. Most couples attend an initial consultation followed by a series of meetings to discuss the terms of their separation.

In between these meetings, you will have time to reflect on the proposed terms. You can then bring any notes or questions that you have to your next meeting. This means that you can make quick progress and find separation terms that you both agree on.

The majority of couples go through two to four mediation sessions before reaching terms that they agree on. All in all, this is much quicker and cheaper than hiring lawyers.

Get Help Choosing Between Cleveland Divorce Versus Cleveland Mediation

Choosing between Cleveland divorce versus Cleveland mediation depends a lot on your personal circumstances. Because of this, it can help to speak to an experienced divorce lawyer or mediator about your options. This will help you choose the right process for you and your ex. 

Next Page Mediation is here to help you do just that! Get in touch today to book a free 30-minute consultation with an experienced mediator. We’re happy to help.