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Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation: What’s the Difference?

When people think about divorces, they often picture a contentious courtroom battle. However, not all uncouplings have to end with going to trial. If you are filing for divorce or facing a civil dispute, there may be a better option for you. Instead of leaving the fate of your future in the hands of a judge and spending an exorbitant amount of money by going through litigation, consider mediation and arbitration to resolve your legal matter.

Divorce Mediation

The mediation process allows spouses to negotiate terms with one another under the help of a mediator, an unbiased third-party. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, mediators do not possess the power to finalize decisions and do not have a say in the final outcome of divorce terms. Their goal is to facilitate an open discussion between the parties to reach a resolution. Mediation has seen high success rates since participants are brought together in a relaxed environment where they can openly present their side. Being in the presence of a neutral mediator helps eliminate hostility and promotes effective communication.


Since the decisions made during mediation are not binding, you and your spouse must turn your compromises into divorce terms, which must then be submitted to a judge for approval. If divorcing couples are unable to resolve their issues through mediation, they may choose to go through a traditional divorce or arbitration.

By choosing divorce mediation, you can:

  • Save time by avoiding backlogged courts

  • Save money by avoiding litigation and the steep legal fees that come with it

  • Cooperate with the other party effectively

  • Maintain an amicable relationship with your soon-to-be ex partner as you work together

Divorce Arbitration

Arbitration is another technique used to resolve disputes between divorcing spouses. Similar to mediation, it does not take place in a courtroom. Couples going through arbitration will have their case heard in a private setting before an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators who serve as judges.

During this process, an arbitrator will be presented with the issues surrounding the case that are preventing a resolution. After the hearing, the arbitrator will make a binding decision that cannot be appealed.

Benefits of divorce arbitration:

  • Couples have the option to select an arbitrator who specializes in a specific area, such as real estate or management

  • Couples may define the issues the arbitrator addresses

  • Rather than fitting into a judge’s schedule, couples may choose the day, time, and location of the hearing

  • Arbitration may be as formal or informal as the couples choose

  • Couples may enjoy the confidentiality of arbitration while avoiding the time and expense associated with going to trial

Mediation Versus Arbitration Versus Litigation

When making the decision on which dispute resolution technique to employ for your divorce, there are many things to consider. Many people look to avoid litigation because it’s unpredictable and the outcome is uncertain until a judge makes his or her decision. On the other hand, both mediation and arbitration can help you through important decisions while in a more private setting.

When it comes to deciding between mediation and arbitration, think of the latter as the middle ground between mediation and litigation. Arbitrators will hear and assess evidence to make determinations, while mediators aid productive negotiation between parties.

Alternate Paths to Divorce Litigation

At Peak Mediation, our goal is to help people finalize their divorce or resolve their legal dispute without the stress, expense, and uncertainty of litigation. Our attorney-mediator will begin the process with mediation and can convert the matter to arbitration if any issues are left unresolved.

Call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 259-5944 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today!