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Mediation vs. Litigation For Divorce Cases In Denver

What is the difference between these two terms? Often they are confused with each other, but they are really quite different.


Mediation is a dispute resolution process commonly used in divorce actions, as well as in lawsuits in general. In a Colorado divorce, mediation is intended to help the two parties involved in a divorce agree to an equitable settlement. If the spouses have already attempted to negotiate with each other and been unable to resolve certain difficult issues such as spousal maintenance, the division of property, parenting time, or custody, very often a mediator is brought in to work out the differences in their positions.

The mediator is an independent, specially trained professional whose job it is to facilitate communication between the spouses in an effort to seek workable solutions to the most difficult issues facing the two parties. The mediator remains neutral at all times, refraining from taking sides or making decisions for the parties.

Mediations can be conducted in several different ways. In some instances the spouses actually sit in separate rooms, along with their individual attorneys, and the mediator goes back and forth between the two parties with proposals and counter-proposals. The mediator may assist by suggesting alternatives to be considered. The process continues, issue by issue, until there is agreement. If there is no agreement, litigation becomes the alternative.


Litigation is the process of resolving a lawsuit through the court system. It is often referred to as “going to court,” and it is the last – and least desirable – resort when it comes to solving the often complicated and contentious issues involved in a divorce. In litigation, the divorcing parties’ attorneys argue the outstanding issues at a trial, and the judge then decides the outcome.

Litigation has its drawbacks. It invariably incurs greater legal expenses for the parties in the form of court costs and attorneys’ fees, for it takes up a great deal more of a law firm’s time than mediation and a settlement out of court. In addition, because the divorcing spouses were not able to come to an agreement previously, they are at the mercy (so to speak) of a family court judge who, prior to the court date, knows nothing about the case, the participants, or their desires and extenuating circumstances. Often these unavoidable factors lead to a judicial decision that pleases no one.

What’s Best

Obviously, the best course is to resolve the seemingly un-resolvable through mediation. For one thing, mediation can be the most beneficial course for those who have a desire to maintain a civil, working relationship with their ex-spouse after the divorce is finalized. This is especially important when children are involved.

Mediation, by its very nature, is a collaborative process that is far less adversarial than litigation, and one of its major benefits is that it allows the divorcing partners to retain control over the outcome of their divorce case, rather than turning it over to the court system.

On the other hand, there may be cases such as those involving domestic violence or child abuse where mediation is impossible, and this is what the court system is designed to handle. Individual circumstances, therefore, will dictate which course is best.

Divorce Matters® represents clients throughout Metro Denver and the Front Range including: Arapahoe County, Aurora, Boulder, Bow Mar, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Centennial, Douglas County, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Denver, Greenwood Village, Jefferson County, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Lone Tree, Louisville, and Parker.

Call Divorce Matters® today at (720) 542-6142 to schedule an appointment with an attorney.

Our highly-accomplished divorce and family law attorneys practice throughout Colorado, including:
Adams County (Arvada, Aurora, Brighton, Thornton, Westminster); Arapahoe County (Aurora, Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Littleton); Boulder County; Broomfield County; Denver County; Douglas County (Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Parker); Elbert County (Elizabeth, Kiowa); and Jefferson County (Arvada, Golden, Lakewood, Morrison, Wheat Ridge).


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Why not start exploring your options? Call us at 720.542.6142 to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced Denver divorce attorneys today.

Our highly-accomplished divorce and family law attorneys practice throughout Colorado, including:


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