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In mediation, the parties usually share the cost of one mediator rather than both parties paying individually for separate divorce attorneys. In addition, the mediation sessions are focused and less time will be wasted than a typical court appearance where much of the time is spent waiting for your case to be heard.
Working with their mediator, the parties themselves determine what issues need to be discussed and resolved. In addition, the parties, not the court, will determine together what outcome is fair rather than a judge making the decisions.
The parties set the time frame themselves for how quickly they wish to move through the process and can schedule meetings with their mediator as often as they wish unlike a litigated divorce which is limited by the court schedule and docket as well the attorney's schedules.
Contested custody trials involve many professionals in the dispute, such as guardians, psychological evaluators, attorneys for the children and court personnel. In many instances, these professionals will need to interact with the children directly so that they can provide input into the process. In mediation, the mediator assists the parents in focusing on the children without embroiling them in the process through education and discussion.
Litigation is centered on conflict with an ultimate winner and loser. The goal of mediation is to craft an outcome that meets as many priorities for each party as possible resulting in a win-win situation for each. Traditional adversarial litigation leaves the parties with court orders imposed upon them by a third party. In the mediation process, the parties learn to communicate and work together to reach compromise, and they, not some stranger, make the final decisions as to what they think is best for them and for their family.
The conversations and meetings held with the mediator are private and the documents and notes created in the process are usually privileged and confidential. This is in direct contrast to courtroom proceedings which are generally open to the public so that personal details and information are discussed in a room full of strangers.