If your first inclination when facing a divorce or separation is “I’m going to court,” you’re certainly not alone. Traditionally, family breakdowns have been dealt with in court and tend to be viewed as an adversarial process by default — a battle between partners on matters ranging from finances to child custody.

But that’s changing. While litigation still has its place, going to court is no longer the only solution on the table when dealing with these matters. There are alternative dispute resolution methods available to you that may provide a more cost effective, timely, and positive outcome to all parties involved.

Let’s compare one of these methods, family mediation, to a divorce or separation handled in court, and break down some of the most impactful differences.

For an overview of family mediation, take a look at this article.

If you don’t fight, you can’t lose

If you deal with a divorce or separation in court, your lawyer’s job is to support you and try to “win.” But what if you don’t? This adversarial and often hostile approach doesn’t guarantee a win. If a judge doesn’t make a decision in your favour, you stand to lose more than you bargained for.

In contrast, mediation emphasizes working towards a balanced solution for both sides of a dispute. Lawyers involved in mediation will help their clients to come up with a cooperative approach that will ultimately benefit both parties — instead of leaving one high and dry.

Making sure your voice is heard

Mediation allows you to have a voice in the decision-making process, instead of leaving the final say up to a judge who is not intimately involved in your divorce or separation.

With the help of a mediator in a non-adversarial, controlled environment, both parties will work together to make sure their individual concerns are addressed fairly.

An experienced mediator will know how to help you prioritize important issues and work towards resolutions based on your desired outcome, not simply what a judge decides is best for you.

Don’t drag it out

Resolving a divorce or separation in court can be an excruciatingly lengthy process. If the courts are excessively backlogged, litigation can take years.

While mediation doesn’t happen over night, on average the process is significantly faster than going through the courts.

This alone can be reason enough to seek out alternative dispute resolution. Time is important to everyone — if you can speed up this process and get better results, you’ll be less stressed and less worried about the outcome.

The cost

Last but not least: the financial element.

When engaging in litigation in court to resolve a divorce or separation, the costs involved in starting an action, preparing a case, and all other elements can pile up incredibly quickly.

Taking advantage of family mediation can save both parties money.