Pennsylvania couples who are considering divorce may wonder whether to choose a more collaborative or adversarial system of resolving issues such as property division and child custody. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.
Divorce is an emotional time, and a mediator recognizes that. In mediation, there is an attempt to sit couples down and create a logical solution despite those emotions. The goal of mediation is to come to a solution that suits both parties. Mediation can be less expensive than other methods, and unlike litigation, it remains private. It also tends to keep relationships intact.
Litigation has a tendency to be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally grueling. In many ways, its goal is the opposite of mediation. While mediation aims toward compromise, in litigation, there may be a winner and a loser. Litigation is also not private. It can cost a great deal and can last a long time.
Arbitration falls between the two. It is similar to a trial, but unlike a judge, an arbitrator can be selected by the parties involved. An arbitrator's decision usually cannot be appealed.
Many parents may find mediation a better approach because it might do more to preserve the parenting relationship. Even if two people do not agree on anything else, they will need to negotiate raising their children until they are no longer minors, and mediation may contribute to making this easier. Furthermore, in mediation, parents may make better decisions about child custody and visitation. A judge bases a decision on the best interests of the child, but parents might have a more nuanced understanding of their children's needs. Mediation may also allow a couple to craft their own solution to division of property and debt that suits them better than one created by a judge would.