How to know when a divorce is suitable for mediation

This article looks at which divorce cases are particularly well suited for mediation and which aren’t.

While an amicable divorce may sound like a contradiction in terms, the truth of the matter is that divorce does not have to be nearly as acrimonious as is popularly believed. With alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation, collaboration, and arbitration, those going through a divorce can avoid the bitter and contentious situation that going to court often puts couples in. However, not all divorce cases are suitable for mediation and other ADR methods. Below is a look at when those going through a divorce should avoid court and when they should not.

Going for mediation

Mediation and other divorce processes that are designed to keep couples out of court have a number of benefits. As U.S. News and World Report points out, perhaps the biggest reason most people choose mediation or collaboration is that it is significantly cheaper than going to court. That's because legal fees tend to be lower and because bypassing court also means that the divorce can usually be resolved faster.

However, not all couples are suited for this option. Mediation requires both parties to be able to negotiate with the former spouse without letting emotions cloud their judgement - something that is certainly easier said than done during a divorce. On the plus side, even during mediation both parties can and should bring their final divorce agreement to an attorney to at least look over before signing it. That way the client can be better assured that the agreement protects their best interests.

Not right for everyone

While there are considerable benefits to mediation, there are plenty of instances where people going through a divorce would be better off pursuing it through the courts. As the American Bar Association points out, the issues that will need to be discussed during negotiations, such as child custody, spousal maintenance, and property division, can be so contentious that disputes can erupt even when those going through the divorce resolve to remain on amicable terms.

More importantly, if one party feels intimidated by the other spouse or is unable to express his or her needs and wants to the other party, then mediation is unlikely to be an effective divorce option. Particularly in cases where one spouse may have been the victim of domestic abuse, mediation may be an especially bad idea. Also, the power of the court can be especially useful in cases where one party is suspected of hiding assets since that party and third parties with knowledge of assets can be served subpoenas designed to force them to provide important financial documents.

Family law help

Going through a divorce is difficult, but one of the best ways to gain clarity is by talking to a Board-Certified expert Family Law attorney. An experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney can help clients with their divorce in a number of ways, including by informing them about different options for investigating the extent of the community estate, for negotiating a settlement, and helping them reach an agreement that protects their best interests.