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Divorce mediation vs. litigation

Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation: Which Financial Path is Right for You in Chicago?

Are you considering divorce?

Whether you’ve made the decision or are still contemplating it, the financial impact is a common concern.

Luckily, couples have two options for resolving financial matters: mediation and litigation.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right financial path.


Mediation involves engaging with a neutral mediator, usually a seasoned family law attorney, to foster discussions between the parties involved and reach an agreement based on their own terms. Throughout the mediation process, both parties have the opportunity to voice their concerns and work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.



Mediation is generally less expensive than litigation as it does not involve court fees and often takes less time to reach a resolution. This can be especially beneficial for couples who are seeking a more affordable option during the divorce process, allowing them to allocate their resources towards other important matters.

Less adversarial

Unlike litigation where each party has their own attorney, mediation focuses on cooperation and compromise. This approach can help maintain a more amicable relationship between the divorcing couple, leading to a smoother transition and potentially reducing long-term conflicts that may arise.


Mediation allows for greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and decision-making. Both parties have more control over the outcome, rather than leaving it up to a judge who may not fully understand the unique circumstances of the couple. This flexibility enables the couple to tailor the agreement to their specific needs and priorities, ensuring a more customized resolution.


The discussions held during mediation are confidential and cannot be used in court, fostering a safe and private environment for open and honest communication. This confidentiality allows both parties to freely express their concerns, interests, and desires without fear of it being used against them in a court of law. It encourages a more productive dialogue, facilitating the exploration of creative solutions and increasing the chances of reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement.


May not work for all couples

Mediation requires both parties to be willing to communicate and compromise. If there is a power imbalance or if one party is unwilling to cooperate, mediation may not be successful.  In such cases, alternative dispute resolution methods or legal intervention may be necessary.

No guarantee of reaching an agreement

Unlike litigation where a judge makes the final decision, mediation relies on both parties to come to an agreement. While mediators facilitate the process and help parties explore options, there is no assurance that an agreement will be reached. This can be due to various factors such as complex issues, deeply entrenched positions, or a lack of willingness to compromise. If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the parties may need to seek alternative resolution methods or pursue litigation to resolve their disputes.


Litigation involves each party hiring their own attorney and going through the court system to reach a resolution. The judge presides over financial matters, including asset division, child support, and alimony, and renders final decisions.


Court orders are enforceable

The decisions made by a judge during litigation are legally binding and can be enforced if one party does not comply. This provides a sense of security and ensures that the decisions made in court are upheld, promoting fairness and accountability.

May be necessary for complex cases

If there is a lot of conflict or complicated financial matters involved, litigation may be the best option to ensure a fair outcome. The formalities and procedures involved in litigation allow for a thorough examination of evidence and legal arguments, which can be crucial in resolving complex legal disputes.

Protects those in vulnerable situations

In cases of domestic abuse or power imbalances, litigation may be necessary to protect the rights and safety of one party. By involving the court system, individuals in vulnerable situations can seek legal remedies and obtain the necessary protection and support they require. Litigation can provide a platform for victims to present their case and receive the justice they deserve.



Litigation can be an expensive process due to various factors, including court fees, legal representation fees for both parties, and the potential need for expert witnesses or consultants. These additional expenses can significantly increase the overall cost of the divorce proceedings.

Can be time-consuming

Court proceedings in divorce cases often involve multiple hearings, document submissions, and negotiations, which can take a significant amount of time. This extended timeline can lead to added stress and frustration for both parties involved, as well as prolonging the overall divorce process.


Litigation in divorce cases typically involves each party advocating for their own interests and positions, which can create an adversarial environment. This adversarial nature of litigation makes it more challenging for the parties to maintain a positive relationship and can potentially strain future interactions, especially when children are involved. It is important to consider alternative dispute resolution methods that promote collaboration and cooperation to preserve relationships post-divorce.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s always a good idea to speak with a financial advisor throughout the divorce process. They can help you understand the financial implications of each decision and ensure that you make informed choices that will benefit your future.

Remember, divorce encompasses not only legal aspects but also financial implications, and having a knowledgeable professional by your side can significantly impact the outcome.

Work with us

If you’re looking for an experienced financial advisor, we can help.  At Purposeful Wealth Advisors, we work closely with divorce attorneys, accountants, and other dedicated professionals to arrive at comprehensive solutions for our clients. 

Contact us today to know more!

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making a decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. and Keating Financial Advisory Services. Keating Financial Advisory Services and Purposeful Wealth Advisors are not a registered broker/dealers and are independent of Raymond James Financial Services.