Mediation vs. Litigation: Choosing the Right Path for Your Utah Divorce

Between the years of 2011 and 2021, marriages in Utah increased to 8.4 per 1,000 inhabitants. However, divorce rates were 3.3 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2021.

 While divorce is never easy, there are certain things that a couple can do to limit the amount of money and suffering they go through. One of those options is mediation, where things are handled mainly outside of the courtroom. 

Mediation is one way to reduce the cost of lawyer or attorney time while reaching an amicable agreement with the help of a mediator so that the mediation process is successful for each party involved. This differs from the more traditional litigation route, in which there are more complex legal proceedings. 

If you are facing a divorce, you need to know whether mediation would be your best option, both financially and emotionally. Whatever stage of your divorce you are at, it is important to have a dedicated family law divorce lawyer or advocate by your side. Divorce can be messy, so knowing your best options can give you a good start to a peaceful resolution. 

What is Divorce Mediation?

In most jurisdictions across Utah, divorce mediation – where divorcing parties seek to resolve their issues with the help of a mediator – is mandatory. 

This mediator, who is a neutral third party, can help the couple come to a mutual agreement on matters such as: 

  • Division of assets
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Debts
  • Alimony
  • Other disputed issues for both parties

Mediation, as in other forms of alternative dispute resolution or arbitration, is particularly effective for couples who want to end the union on good terms and for each spouse to be satisfied with the agreement and the mediation process. 

Some advantages of mediation include:

  • Confidentiality: With mediation, both parties can maintain privacy and confidentiality. Your personal issues don’t become part of a court record.
  • Speed and cost-effectiveness: Mediated divorces are often concluded more quickly, without heavy lawyer fees.
  • Being amicable and advantageous for children: Mediation can be a collaborative process with both parties working on common goals together. With quicker resolution and more cordial dealings, children may be less negatively affected by a mediated divorce.

Mediation is not a one-size-fits-all process, and there are many reasons why it may or may not be suitable for your case. Whether or not mediation may be right for your divorce depends on numerous factors that a family law attorney can explain to you. 

Mediation generally works well for couples with an uncontested divorce and who do not have issues with emotional, physical, or substance abuse.

The goal of mediation is to achieve a durable agreement through cooperation with mediators and good communication. 

The mediator doesn’t take sides. Instead, the mediator acts as a guide to help you reach a mutual agreement and make the final agreement together with your lawyers. This can benefit all involved and doesn’t drag the settlement out for months, waiting on court dates and depositions. 

What is Divorce Litigation?

Litigation, while the conventional route for divorce disputes, is an adversarial process where the involved parties are on opposite sides of the court case throughout the time-consuming legal procedures. It involves the court system throughout the entire divorce, starting with the divorcing spouse filing for divorce, and both parties are generally represented by an attorney.

The decisions are made by the judge, which differs from mediation, where the parties are involved in finding a mutually beneficial solution.

The court process involves depositions and financial disclosures. When in the courtroom, each side presents their case to the judge. The judge will make rulings on any and all contested issues, including property division, child custody, child support, asset division, and spousal support. 

In some family law cases, litigation may be necessary due to particular issues in the marriage, such as:

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Extreme emotional tension
  • High levels of conflict
  • One party is concealing information or hiding assets

If any of these factors are present in your case, you are not a good candidate for a divorce mediation Utah mediator. Litigation would probably be your best legal option for a divorce settlement.

Which One is Right for Me?

Every divorce case is unique, so there is no universal resolution technique or best method. The course of action should always be specific to your circumstances. In any case, the divorcing couple requires a third party to ensure the final outcome of the case is fair and amicable. 

In review, mediation uses an impartial third-party mediator. Divorcing couples seek mediation in certain circumstances, such as wanting to save time and money, but they must be willing to yield to resolve disputes. Most mediations take a number of arbitration sessions to reach an agreement. 

In litigation, the couple gives the decision-making control to the judge. This is necessary in cases where one party holds their ground and refuses to concede anything to the other side. Additionally, litigation may be in the best interests of the couple if serious safety issues or custody concerns are a factor in the divorce.

Since 2005, in Utah, couples that file for divorce with any contested issues must participate in at least one mediation session. This doesn’t mean that all couples continue with the mediation process and avoid litigation. The specifics of your case will determine the best legal way to proceed and whether it is possible to avoid the courts. 

What Are My Next Steps?

You likely want your divorce to go as smoothly and painlessly as possible. Nearly every Utah couple that plans to divorce must at least try one session of mediation. Those mediation sessions can help resolve the main contested issues. However, you want to make sure that your legal rights and assets are protected.

It is a good idea to contact a Utah family law attorney as soon as you start considering divorce. They can help guide you to the best resolution possible in your case, which may include mediation. They will consider every aspect of your specific case and do their best to help you avoid being dissatisfied with the outcome of your divorce.

Most divorce attorneys will recommend mediation first, as it is your best chance to maintain some control of your settlement. Staying on good terms with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, especially if you have children, is a priority for many couples nowadays. 

How a Utah Lawyer Can Help

In divorce mediation, the mediator provides his or her services so both parties can reach a successful divorce agreement in everyone’s best interests. The mediator may help the parties save money and maintain control through alternative dispute resolution.

Divorces can be emotionally and financially complex, and it is often hard to know who to turn to for help. At Brown Family Law, our goal is to help you maximize time with your kids and protect your money, using mediation to benefit all parties whenever possible. We come with years of experience in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

We are always available to talk with our clients, and we even offer divorce consultations on whether mediation could be right for you. When you need a compassionate and affordable divorce attorney, look no further than Brown Family Law. Call us 24/7 at 801-685-9999 to spare yourself the fear and stress of a messy divorce.

Published On: January 3rd, 2024Categories: DivorceComments Off on Mediation vs. Litigation: Choosing the Right Path for Your Utah Divorce
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About the Author: Marco Brown
Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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