Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Is your divorce wrong for mediation?

Divorce is not always the heated and contentious transaction portrayed on TV and in movies. More often, couples prefer to take a gentler approach to ending their marriages through mediation. Mediation allows a couple to make their own important decisions about their future, such as property division and custody, instead of surrendering that control to the court.

The benefits of mediation over litigation are many. Virginia couples who mediate are more likely to end with a more satisfying settlement, and they have a better foundation for those future times when cooperation and compromise will be important. Mediation is often less expensive than a litigated divorce, and that can mean a more financially stable post-divorce life. However, mediation is not for everyone.

Signs that it may be better to bypass mediation

You and your spouse may not discover that mediation is not going to work for you until you are already in the process. It is not unusual for a couple to reach an impasse during negotiations and be unable to continue. However, there may be signs that a couple should bypass efforts at mediation and move right to litigation.

If you truly cannot wish your partner well, you may have a difficult time getting through mediation. Couples who dig in to their own point of view have difficulty seeking common ground. For example, you may see your spouse as the cause of your marital troubles, and your spouse may blame you for the same troubles. If one of you is unwilling to hear the other's perspective, mediation will break down quickly.

Some other signs that mediation is not the best choice for your divorce include these:

  • One of you does not want to mediate.
  • One of you wants to burn through the marital assets with an expensive divorce.
  • You are more interested in your spouse losing than you are in reaching a fair settlement.
  • Your emotional state prevents you from advocating for your own best interests.

Of course, mediation is not recommended if your relationship was abusive. If your spouse mistreated you, it is not likely he or she will be willing or able to compromise, and you may not wish to negotiate with your abuser.

However, even spouses who have been wounded through infidelity are often able to come to a mediator and resolve many of the elements necessary for a smooth, civilized divorce. Mediation is a wonderful alternative for divorcing spouses who are willing to see past their hurt and focus on a better future for themselves and their former spouses. Without a spirit of cooperation, however, the mediation process is not likely to be successful.

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