More couples are seeking amicable and cooperative ways to end their marriages. Rather than taking their conflict to the public forum of the civil court, they choose mediation, collaboration or other more peaceful ways to divorce. Using these methods, couples discuss matters such as asset division, child custody and support issues with the assistance of neutral third parties.
Studies show that couples who successfully resolve their disputes using these alternative methods often have a better relationship after the divorce, which benefits everyone if they have children to co-parent. Unfortunately, alternative dispute resolution is not ideal for every situation.
When mediation probably won't work
You may be willing to try mediation for your divorce. In fact, the judge in your case may have suggested or even ordered you to try it. Sometimes, even those couples who are angry or embittered toward one another can manage to find common ground during mediation and reach a peaceful resolution they can both live with. However, mediation may not be right for you if you are in any of the following situations:
- You want the details of your divorce to be a matter of public record. When someone has a high position or reputation, a wronged spouse may wish the public to know of infidelity or other misbehavior, which would remain private in mediation.
- You believe your spouse may be hiding assets. A mediator can require full financial disclosure, but you may need the authority of the court to track down hidden assets if your spouse is not honest.
- Your spouse refuses to negotiate in good faith. A spouse who wants to draw out the divorce through a fruitless mediation process can do a great deal of damage.
- Your spouse has no interest in mediation. Perhaps he or she does not want to spend the money or does not want to put the work into reaching a settlement on your terms.
- Your spouse is controlling or intimidating, which may prevent you from speaking up for your rights during negotiations.
- You are coming from an abusive marriage that may make it unsafe for you to meet privately with your spouse. You will have less of a safety risk if you are in a courthouse for your divorce.
While any of these may be reasons to skip mediation in favor of a litigated divorce, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney, who can help you choose the most appropriate method of divorce for your situation and advise you through every step of the process.