Comparing the Cost: Litigation, Mediation, & Collaboration

May 22, 2018  By  Admin

Each divorce case is unique, because people are not all alike. Litigated cases range from the simple, friendly case resolved relatively inexpensively and quickly, to the litigation equivalent of a war that lasts for years and consumes enormous financial, emotional, and relational resources. Mediated and collaborative cases sometimes breakdown and are unsuccessful.

One truth, however, is that attorneys and the judicial system are all about the law but are typically not well equipped to deal with matters of finance, mental health, human behavior, or parenting. So, the judicial system and most attorneys are not highly attuned to or able to respond to the multiple facets of the divorce process experienced by divorcing spouses and their families.

What is the financial cost?

Every case is different, regardless of whether the process used is litigation, mediation, or collaboration.

However, in general, the longer and more intensely a case is litigated, the more costly it will be. The rub here is that the parties in litigation often do not have control over how adversarial the case becomes or how long it takes to reach a resolution.

Mediation is typically much less expensive than litigation if the parties can successfully resolve their disputed issues with the help of a neutral mediator.

The cost of collaboration will often be higher than the cost of mediation, because of the involvement of the team of collaborative professionals, but lower than litigated cases. However, the holistic approach provided by the collaborative process offers to clients the resources and support to help them deal with the multiple facets of divorce – relational, emotional, financial, and legal.

What is the psychological cost?

The ending of a marriage relationship is, by its nature, a difficult process for most people.

Litigation is typically an anxiety provoking process in and of itself, primarily because it can become so adversarial and is largely outside of the control of the parties. The anxiety associated with litigation is often the reason parties eventually become willing to settle their issues partly or entirely out of court, which is what happens in well over 95% of cases.

Mediation and collaboration are intended to exact a lesser psychological toll on the parties by reducing the level of adversariness and unpredictability in the process and increasing the parties’ control over the process and the outcomes. In the multi-disciplinary collaborative process the parties also, each have a mental health professional to work with them and coach them through the process.

What is the relational cost?

It is possible to end a marriage without destroying a relationship, and this is particularly important if there were children of the marriage.

Divorce litigation typically does nothing to encourage the preservation of relationships, and frequently does the exact opposite by inflaming anger and resentment.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process which seeks to avoid adversariness through the use of a neutral mediator to facilitate agreement, but it normally does not provide active support for the preservation of a relationship between the parties.

The multi-disciplinary collaborative approach to divorce provides professional support for the preservation of relationships through the divorce process and thereafter. As indicated above, this is particularly valuable if the parties will be sharing in the parenting of their children and jointly participating in and enjoying their children’s and even their grandchildren’s lives.

Copyright Laurence M. Hamric, J.D., M.Div. – Used by Permission

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