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When Mediation Is Not the Right Answer

Mediation is one of the more popular alternative dispute resolutions used by divorcing couples, it’s cheaper, quicker and a more collaborative process than litigation. With mediation, you get to decide the terms of your divorce and what works best for everyone involved. While mediation can be a great alternative, it doesn’t work for everyone. Even couples who are willing to talk it out may find that mediation can be counter-productive.

The following are several reasons why mediation might not be the right choice for you:

  • Safety is a concern. Keeping everyone safe should be the first priority, if there’s any history of domestic violence or child abuse, you need to hire an attorney and involve law enforcement immediately.
  • You feel inferior to your spouse. If you feel often manipulated by your soon-to-be-ex or that your opinion doesn’t matter, mediation may not be the best option. It may be more beneficial for you to have an attorney who can be your voice and advocate on your behalf.
  • A participant is under the influence. Any person under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not be negotiating a divorce. If there is an issue of substance abuse, this needs to be documented and dealt with properly. It might be necessary to postpone negotiations until the impaired party has sought the help they need. If they are not willing to address the problem or get help, you will want an attorney to advise you on the next steps to take.
  • Present mental health issues. If you or your spouse is currently coping with a mental health issue, mediation may not be for you. Battling a mental health issue can be an enormous struggle, and it’s important to understand your limits. Try not to let yourself feel pressured into mediation. It’s okay to need help, that’s why lawyers have jobs. To be there for you, especially when you can’t.
  • Your spouse is hiding assets. If you suspect your spouse is hiding marital assets, mediation is not a good option. In this case, you will want the assistance of a financial expert to help you document and locate all marital property; this is typically arranged by your attorney.
  • Your spouse no-shows or won’t agree to a day/time. Did your spouse no-show on your last mediation appointment? Do they refuse to make time for it? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, it might be time for a new approach.
  • You’re too emotional. Ending a marriage is stressful and can be very emotional. If you’re having a tough time keeping it together during your sessions, it might be in your best interest to choose a different route. The divorce process is taxing no matter which way you go, but mediation tends to get a little more personal where arbitration and litigation are more black and white.
  • Your mediator suggests other options. If after a few sessions your mediator suggests that you’d be better suited using a different approach, it’s probably in your best interest to do so. Mediators are professionals in their field; they see conflict every day and are well-equipped to make these types of judgment calls.