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When Mediation Is Not the Best Way to Resolve a Divorce

Divorce proceedings can be expensive as well as time-consuming and emotionally draining on the main parties involved. An array of issues, including the division of property, child custody, alimony and other items of contention can prove to be the catalyst for a contentious, drawn-out affair in court. Mediation is often suggested as a viable alternative to litigation, but unfortunately it is not always appropriate.

All of the advantages of mediation, including lower cost and avoidance of a messy court battle, are compelling reasons for opting for this form of settlement. However, there are circumstances in which mediation would make for a disadvantageous uncontested divorce proceeding, or at least one in which the mediation itself would be problematic.

Emotional issues are often a key reason why mediation would be difficult to pull off. One example is if one of the spouses wishes to inflict emotional pain upon the other spouse or is bent upon dragging out the conflict. Another emotion-related obstacle would be posed if one of the spouses or the children was subjected to emotional, physical, sexual or verbal abuse during the marriage.

Physical abuse, or rather the potential for physical abuse, is another potential undermining factor. If one spouse feels unsafe or threatened by the other spouse, the prospects for a duress-free mediation process are diminished.

Yet another potential issue that could damage the chances for a successful mediation process is if one or both spouses have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol or drug abusers make for poor candidates to be reasonable, much less level-headed.

And finally, there is one more reason why a mediation may not be advisable and it goes to the core of why so many marriages head for divorce: a lack of honesty or fairness. If either one of those factors is missing, it is difficult to envision soon-to-be ex-spouses who can be trusted to help facilitate a successful mediation.

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