Couples hesitate to file for divorce for many reasons. Some parents wish to stay together for the kids, while others fear social retribution among their community. For many people, the high cost of divorce is enough to stay in an unsatisfying marriage.

Recent studies show that the average cost of divorce is about $15,000 per person, including attorney’s fees, court fees, damages, transportation, and more. Co-parents must factor in childcare and separate living arrangement during negotiations. This high price prohibits many people from affording a divorce, potentially leaving spouses in dangerous situations with abusive partners. Thankfully, some couples can tolerate each other enough to use alternative dispute resolutions, including mediation.

Mediation provides benefits beyond lower cost

Before using mediation to draft negotiations, a couple must secure permissions from a judge. Judges rule for mediation in divorce frequently, continuing a 20-year trend of increased use. Mediation will only work for couples motivated toward a mutually beneficial conclusion. The nature of mediation requires spouses to use active listening, empathy and compromise.

Divorce mediation can provide several benefits:

  • Confidentiality: Mediators maintain confidential negotiations, unlike a courthouse with its stenographer and accessible public record. Spouses can speak freely and without confidence in front of a mediator, trusting that their words will not resurface in future disputes.
  • Independent mediator: Couples choose their mediator, independent from court infrastructure. Professional mediators receive training in communication and collaboration techniques, which they use to help spouses find a compromise. Mediators do not issue rulings and do not force anyone to sign an unsatisfactory agreement.
  • Lower cost: Without a courtroom, couples save considerably on fees with mediation. Studies show that the average cost of mediation totals $1,500 — about 10% of traditional litigation. Lawyers often charge lower hourly rates when working within mediation and many states pay the mediator’s rate.
  • Greater convenience: Since mediation does not require a courtroom, couples will not receive an assigned court date. Mediation can occur in any neutral location as soon as a judge approves — not months after.
  • Better results: People who use mediation report more satisfaction than those who use litigation, both with the process and the results. The collaborative nature of mediation creates agreements that please both parties, building a plan that works for everyone.

Seek legal consultation before filing for divorce

Spouses considering divorce can find answers with a local attorney familiar with California’s divorce laws. A lawyer will help assess a divorce, recommend a method for dispute resolution and suggest professional mediators.