Legal litigation is way more confrontational, as lawyers are hired by both sides to present a case that’s designed to get a judge to give their client the most favourable decision. This usually means an adversarial approach is employed by lawyers who try to demean the other partner in the case. And neither partner will know the result until the presiding judge rules on the case. Even when the result is delivered, there’s no telling who, if any partner, will emerge victorious.

In contrast, mediation works on the principle that those involved in a divorce are best placed to come to an agreement about the way forward, with a little help from professionals who can point them in the right direction. By and large, the process is non-adversarial and requires all parties to agree to voluntarily share information in an non-aggressive, confidential manner.

At no stage during mediation will the mediator take sides or pass judgement in terms of who is right or wrong. Instead, their role is to work with both sides to guide them towards an agreement that’s mutually beneficial. Either spouse can withdraw from the mediation process at any time.

To ensure the confidentiality of all mediation sessions, no conversation is recorded and no court reporter is present. What’s more, the mediator is honor- bound not to disclose anything that’s discussed during a mediation session to anyone other than those participating in it. In some cases, lawyers can be present during mediation sessions.

It is worth noting here that mediation is not a substitute for securing the services of a qualified lawyer. You will need to seek qualified, independent legal advice during your mediation, and will need a lawyer to review your agreement before you sign it.