Mediation Vs. Litigation for Divorce in Orange County [2024 Updated]

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Apr 22, 2024

If you are wondering the difference between mediation vs. litigation for divorce in Orange County, Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, breaks down the unique considerations of both actions and which may be the right step for your divorce. Looking into the specific details of each unique divorce case and determining whether pursuing mediation or litigation may be the right course of action can be challenging.


In a mediation, the decision-making power is in the hands of the spouses. Mediation may be a good option for spouses who agree on the majority of the details of their divorce case and are looking for both a time and financially-efficient solution. Explore the specifics of mediation further below.

  • Type of Cases: The types of cases where mediation is recommended are in the event that spouses are willing to collaborate and work together with a mediator to determine the details of their divorce. If there is no history of power imbalances or domestic violence, and the spouses are able to engage with each other civilly, then mediation may be a good option.
  • Confidentiality: The details of all mediations are confidential, with the only public information being the final judgment. This means that all back and forth and all specific matters discussed in mediation are held confidential between both spouses and their mediator.
  • Cost: Mediation is generally low in cost when compared with other options like litigation and collaborative divorce. The major cost of mediation is the amount of the mediator’s time and effort costs. In many mediations, only one mediator is required, and spouses can split the costs of this support.
  • Timeline: Successful mediation is typically the quickest divorce option because divorce terms are generally resolved in as little as a few meetings with a mediator.
  • Results: The end result of mediation is that the mediator prepares a judgment, which is agreed upon by both parties, which is signed and filed with the court and then it is officially enforceable by the court.


In litigation, the decision-making power is ultimately given to the judge. While each spouse has the opportunity to present their side of the case, the judge will make all final determinations in divorce matters like the division of assets and debts, child custody, spousal support, and all other relevant details.

  • Types of Cases: The types of cases that require litigation are when the divorcing spouses are unable or unwilling to work together. At times, couples may choose to start with mediation, but if issues and tension arise, they may need to pursue litigation to get a resolution. In cases where there is a history of domestic violence or power imbalances, litigation is recommended, as the spouses do not necessarily have to interact one-on-one.
  • Confidentiality: Most litigation pleadings are public records, which means the level of confidentiality is quite low, as anyone can access public records.
  • Cost: The cost of litigation can vary depending on the details of each unique case. Both parties typically have their own lawyers who can vary in cost. If the case is highly contested and disputed, the costs can quickly rise.
  • Timeline: Litigation can take quite some time as there are several steps required for this option. The steps can include discovery, filing possible motions with the court, judgment, as well as appeals.
  • Results: A judge makes the final decisions on the divorce terms in litigation. This decision can be appealed if spouses find it unfair or that there were other errors, but in the end, the judge decides.

Ultimately, the decision is yours when it comes to how to respond to your divorce. An experienced divorce litigation attorney can look at the details of your case and help to provide informed insight into what approach may be appropriate given your decision. Some spouses choose to start with mediation as this tends to be more cost-effective and move to litigation if the mediation is unsuccessful.


Q: What Should I Not Say in a Divorce Mediation?

A: What you should not say in a divorce mediation is that you are unwilling to collaborate with your spouse. The success of mediation is contingent on the successful and uncontested cooperation of each spouse, and being unwilling to converse, question, and have a thorough back and forth is necessary. If you are concerned about how to behave or operate in mediation conversations, speak with a qualified attorney to learn how to prepare for a successful outcome.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Mediator and a Litigator?

A: The difference between a mediator and a litigator is the setting of the legal resolution. Attorneys can operate as mediators and litigators depending on the unique settings of their client’s legal action. A mediator is generally hired by a divorcing couple to offer support in divorce conversation, whereas a litigator is hired separately by each spouse to represent their interests in court.

Q: Is Mediation Mandatory in California Divorce?

A: Mediation is not mandatory in California divorce. Mediation is not always a possibility for some spouses, especially in the case of domestic abuse, infidelity, power imbalance issues, and more. If you believe you and your spouse can resolve your disputes amicably, mediation may be preferred in your unique case.

Q: How Much Is Divorce Mediation in California?

A: How much a divorce mediation is in California depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Mediation is generally thought to be among the cheaper options for divorce cases as divorcing spouses jointly hire one mediator rather than litigation, where they both hire their own attorneys. The amount can vary based on jurisdiction, the experience level of the attorney, processing considerations, and more. Speak with a lawyer to learn more about the costs of mediation for your specific case.

Contact an Orange County Divorce Attorney to Understand Your Options Today

If you are looking to pursue either mediation or litigation for your divorce case in Orange County, speak with a divorce lawyer at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, today. Our team can help you determine which form of legal action is right in light of your unique case and circumstance. It is normal to have questions and concerns regarding how the legal process of divorce might unfold, especially if this is your first time, which is why we are here to help.

Reach out to set up a consultation today, and let’s collaborate to get a successful and fair result from your divorce.

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