Family Law Newsletter
When is Divorce Mediation Appropriate?
Divorce mediation, an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings, is a means to resolve the complex issues of a divorce. Mediation involves the services of a trained and neutral person who works with the parties to facilitate the settlement of disputed issues. Such person is known as the “mediator.”
In traditional divorce proceedings, the judge ultimately determines child support, child custody, spousal support and property issues. Mediation, on the other hand, allows couples to control the outcome of their divorce. Additionally, the mediation process is non-adversarial in nature, which is especially important for couples with children, as like-minded parents can establish parenting plans with minimum disruption to the lives of their children.
Preparation for Mediation
Divorce mediation is most effective when both spouses have accepted that a divorce is imminent. However, even when only one spouse has decided that they want a divorce, mediation may still be a viable option.
Special Issues That May Frustrate the Mediation Process
It is recommended that the couple be in good mental and emotional health before entering into mediation. If the mediator feels that one spouse’s emotional health is at stake, she may refer that spouse to counseling before beginning the mediation process.
Mediation may not be the best alternative in all situations. For example, mediation may not be suitable in situations where domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse are involved. Inherent in domestic violence situations are volatile feelings, and often, emotional abuse. This often creates a communication gap between the parties that even mediation cannot overcome. Where alcohol and drug abuse are involved, mental impairment and erratic behavior can follow, often frustrating the goal of mediation.
Other factors that may frustrate mediation include:
- Spouses who lie about finances
- Easily intimidated spouses
- Contentious spouses
- Spouses who feel that the other spouse is incapable of child care
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