The Key Differences between Divorce Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, and Litigation

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsThe saying, “Till death do us part,” never really lives up to what it dictates with more partners opting for divorce courts instead of living happily ever after.  For those seeking to divorce when divorce is the only remaining option, such parties can choose to get divorced by seeking a divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, or litigation. These divorce methods are different from each other in these ways:

What is Divorce Mediation?

The pair who is splitting up hires a divorce mediator to help them establish a settlement agreement. The mediator doesn’t favor one party over the other, but works neutrally with both parties.


  • Helps to maintain an cordial relationship with your partner even after the divorce
  • Children will not be caught in middle of a child custody battle in the instance you have kids
  • Speeds up the divorce proceedings
  • Less expensive
  • The partners make the decision and not the court
  • Lets two people handle the divorce in private


  • If two people are not able to reach an agreement, some additional money and time will have been spent in the process
  • An inexperienced divorce mediator may be biased towards one partner
  • If the agreement is not drafted correctly or if legal problems arise, it can be challenged in court (which can be a problem if the mediator is not also an experienced divorce attorney)
  • The agreement may not be fair if one partner overpowers the other partner

What is Collaborative Divorce?

In order to avoid going to court, the separating partners can decide to go the route of collaborative divorce, which is a separate system where each party agrees to that system.  By doing so, each party is represented by a collaborative divorce attorney trained in collaborative divorce.  In addition, there is a financial professional involved that handles all of the financial disclosure work, and generally one or both parties also have a “divorce coach” involved, such as a therapist.  In other words, there can be at least 4 professionals involved in the collaborative divorce process.


  • Provides the partners with solutions to reach an amicable settlement agreement
  • The process is meant to resolve cases peacefully out of court
  • The couple divorcing are in-charge of deciding what to do with their lawyers advising them along the way
  • Lets partners address a variety of issues unlike in court


  • Unlike divorce mediation where there is generally just the divorce mediator involved, the collaborative divorce process involves multiple professionals, all of which must be paid for their services.  As a result, the collaborative divorce process is not necessarily a cost-effective way to resolve divorce cases compared to divorce mediation
  • If an agreement is not reached, the collaborative divorce attorneys will have to resign from the case and the partners will have to appoint new attorneys, as neither party can hire the same attorney

What is Litigated Divorce?

Litigated divorce is the most common divorce, as the two parties hire separate attorneys and fight in court on the issues of divorce such as child custody and the distribution of assets.


  • Most common divorce procedure
  • Best for divorcing parties who cannot work together in resolving their disputes
  • The most appropriate procedure where domestic violence or abuse is involved


  • It’s expensive and produces financial distress for the average divorcing family
  • If the partners have children, child custody battle could turn ugly
  • Often puts children in the middle of the divorce disputes and causes the most emotional damage to children
  • Tends to take the most time to resolve
  • Produces animosity, stress, and fuels further litigation
  • Results in court orders not worked out by the parties and which might not be as enforceable as a result

If you are located in Orange County or anywhere else in California, and are planning to get divorced, you should seek the assistance of a reliable California divorce mediator. For further information or to schedule a consultation with California Divorce Mediators, please call (949) 553-0911 or visit  California Divorce Mediators is an experienced Orange County Divorce Mediation and Family Law firm serving the Orange County and Riverside areas and neighboring counties, serving individuals, couples and families with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, spousal support, child support and child custody issues.  As Orange County divorce mediators and Orange County divorce lawyers, we have the experience to help you decide if divorce mediation is a good option for you and your situation.

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