It’s hard to overstate the benefits of a mediated settlement over a litigation battle. Some benefits are obvious – mediation saves money and saves time. Some are not so obvious – successful mediation develops positive conflict management. But there’s little doubt that everyone involved in a divorce is better off discussing their issues and developing a solution themselves.
The most obvious advantage of successful mediation is the cost savings. It’s commonly talked about in divorce circles that for a good lawyer to walk into the courtroom with you will cost about $40,000. Certainly not every case costs this much, but there’s no doubt that fully litigated cases can easily cross into this type of expense. Mediation, on the other hand, may run you as little as $150. Even the most expensive mediators will generally charge about $2,000 for a whole day. The difference between litigation ($40,000) and mediation ($2,000) is saved money that can be used for the children, college expenses, pay off debt, or just to start fresh in life. It may turn out to be the best investment you ever make.
The least obvious, but in many cases, the most important advantage, is that successfully using mediation teaches you to use it again. Better yet, maybe next time, the parties might try sitting down and working it out themselves. During your divorce, you will be learning how to manage conflict. With litigation, you learn to manage future conflict by beating up on each other in the courtroom, finding a winner and a loser, and wasting away your retirement or the kids’ college funds. With mediation, you learn that you come prepared to negotiate, that negotiating takes two, that you can be flexible, and that a deal you work out is better than some judge’s random order any day of the week.