You’ll be asking a judge to make a decision on something, which takes all the control out of your hands. In Canada, the loser may have to pay 30 to 40 per cent of the winner’s legal fees, which discourages a lot of people from going to court. In the US, however, there is no practice of the loser paying the winner’s costs, and this is why EVERYBODY sues. They have very little to lose.
Lawyers get paid two different ways. A fee-for-service lawyer charges by the hour (and this price reflects the overhead such as staffing an office) while others work by contingency, which means they are paid a portion of your award. Aside from lawyers, there are costs for filing documents to the court and these can add up. A contentious divorce can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mediation costs less than a trial and takes much less time to set up. You have more control over what goes on and can gain much more understanding about the dispute. There’s usually a three-hour minimum to allow for the process to run its course. Further sessions can be booked if the mediator’s help is still required.
It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. You may choose to use mediation to hammer a few issues of a separation agreement then go through the legal process to get the other components in place.
Mediators will recommend that any memorandum of understanding that emerges from mediation be reviewed by a lawyer. Mediators do not offer legal advice.