Mediation vs. Litigation: Advantages and Disadvantages of Both

When parties have a dispute to resolve, there are a few different options they may choose from including:

Doing Nothing: Sometimes people with conflicts in their lives decide that the conflict isn’t worth the time, money, and stress that would be involved.

Going to Court: If a person or people decide that the conflict they have cannot be resolved by doing nothing, they may decide to go to court.

Mediation: If the people involved in a conflict don’t want to do nothing about the problem, but think that perhaps their dispute can be resolved in another way, mediation would be a good choice for them. Mediation can be used for several different types of disputes such as: Divorce, legal separation, spousal support, custody, paternity, pensions, military rights, and several more. (Family Law)

The advantages/disadvantages of litigation over mediation are as follows:


  • Full Discovery: parties involved have a chance to view more documents and learn more about their opposition than they would through mediation.
  • Ability to Appeal: Parties have the right to appeal the judge’s decision and possibly achieve a better result. (Rumancik)


  • Time/Expense/Stress: Court cases are much more time consuming, much less cost effective, and cause a lot more stress to the parties involved than mediation sessions do.
  • Non-Expert Decision Making: The jury aren’t law experts, but common people, and because of this they may not be able to make informed decisions about the case. (Rumancik)

The advantages/disadvantages of mediation over litigation are as follows:


  • Time/Expense/Stress: Mediation takes less time, is more cost effective, and causes less stress than litigation. Parties can even receive free court provided mediation. Also, mediation is much less formal than trial tends to be, therefore, it causes less stress. (Sethi)
  • More Control of the Outcome: Parties decide the outcome amongst themselves with the help from the mediator instead of having a judge or jury decide. (Rumancik)
  • The Mediator is an Expert in Law: In other words, they can make informed suggestions about the possible solution to the conflict. (Rumancik)
  • Parties can hear their opposition’s side of the dispute directly from them. (Peters, Mastin)
  • Creative/Individualized Solutions: Not typical solutions, solutions are different with every case. (Devlin, Shank, Barr)
  • Solutions last longer: Since the parties involved are the ones making the final decisions, the solutions tend to last longer. (Understanding Dispute Resolution)
  • Confidential: Parties receive confidentiality since no part of the mediation sessions are public. In fact, mediators are not allowed to make any of reports to the judge, either written or oral. (Devlin, Shank, Barr)


  • Discovery: Parties don’t have the option of receiving as much information from the opposition as they would receive through litigation. (Rumancik)
  • Lack of Finality: Because mediation doesn’t have court ordered solutions, sometimes parties may feel that the solution to the dispute lacks finality. (Doyle)
  • No Public Trial: Parties don’t get their “day in court.” (Doyle)

This article shows the advantages and disadvantages of using either litigation or mediation as a means to resolving a dispute so that parties currently involved in a dispute will be able to make an informed decision about which route they would like to choose in order to reach a resolution to their conflict.