Cape Cod Divorce & Mediation, P.C.
Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq.
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                                      Mediation v. Litigation

A divorcing couple has the option of either litigating or mediating their divorce.   The decision to litigate v. mediate the divorce depends on the needs of the parties.  In a litigated divorce, the court will oversee the entire divorce process.  The parties typically must appear in court for a temporary order hearing, pretrial conference, trial and/or final hearing.  At the end of the mediation process, the parties typically will file a joint petition for divorce and a final hearing is scheduled. 

Litigation begins by one party filing a Complaint.  It may be a Complaint for Divorce, Separate Support, Modification or Contempt. The other party should file an Answer and, if applicable, a Counterclaim. 

The case will follow a time table set forth by the court.  A divorce case can take 10-18 months to go to trial, while a modification or contempt case may take 6-10 months. 

In a litigated case, both parties are entitled to discovery (i.e. legally obtaining financial and other information from the opposing party) and the court can order the parties to comply with discovery requests. 

In a litigation case, parties may request temporary orders for custody, child support, alimony etc.   If custody is an issue, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate the family and make a recommendation to the court.

A pretrial conference will be held in front of the judge to ascertain whether the parties can settle or need a trial date.  

In a litigated case, the outcome is decided by a judge unless the parties arrive at a settlement.

COST:  A litigated case where the parties are represented by legal counsel can cost each party between $5,000.00-$20,000.00. 

Although a mediation can take place at any stage in a litigated case, typically parties seek mediation to avoid a litigation. 

The length of the mediation will vary according to the needs of the couple.  A mediation is usually completed within 1-3 months.
In a mediated divorce, the outcome is decided entirely by the parties with the help of the mediator. 

If custody is an issue, the couple will work together to come up with a plan that best meets the needs of the family.

In a mediation, the couple is in control.  Although it may be challenging to work together, both parties will feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that they are making the best of a difficult situation.

In a mediation, there is no formal discovery conducted, meaning that both parties must be truthful in disclosing information requested by the other party or to the mediator. Trust and honestly are crucial to a successful mediation. 

COST:  In a mediation, the cost is significantly less than in a litigated case. The parties are paying the mediator per hour and often choose to share the cost equally. A full mediation typically will range from $1,350.00 - $3,000.00 depending on how many sessions the parties need.  
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