There are many benefits to mediating a divorce. In mediation, a neutral third-party called the mediator will facilitate discussions between the spouses in an effort to come to a mutually agreed-upon settlement of their divorce legal issues. These settlements are often more satisfactory than a traditional judicial order, because the parties worked together, not against, each other and they had more of a say in crafting the result they feel is fair and works best for them. It also sets the stage for more positive interactions between the spouses in the future, which can be especially important if the couple is raising a child together.
But, is mediation always the better choice? Not always. There are situations in which going to court and having a judge issue a divorce decree may be better than trying to mediate.
For example, if a couple’s relationship is so acrimonious that neither party even wants to entertain the thought of working together to settle their divorce legal issues, then mediation likely will not be of much use. When one or both parties carries so much anger or hurt that they cannot engage in constructive discussions, mediation is likely to fail. In addition, if one or both parties simply do not want to put the time into working things out through mediation, turning to the courts may be the better option.
In addition, mediation may not be the best choice if substance abuse is an issue. When one party is abusing drugs or alcohol, they may not have the frame of mind to make logical decisions. Similarly, if one party has an unaddressed mental health condition, they may not be able to focus or make sound decisions, making mediation impossible.
If domestic violence is an issue, the victim may be too afraid or uncomfortable to stand up for what they want. The power differential could lead to an unfair result. And if there’s a restraining order it may prevent the parties from being able to meet in person, making it less likely that mediation will be successful.
Ultimately, while mediation works very well for many couples seeking a divorce, there are times when it is better to have a judge make decisions. Those seeking a divorce will want to think carefully about how they want to proceed. Mediation has many benefits, but it’s not for everyone.