Many couples opt for divorce mediation in Northern Virginia as a cheaper, more collaborative approach to divorce, and a joint endeavor in which they seek a written divorce settlement agreement. However, there are times when divorce mediation is not recommended.
If you are questioning whether mediation is right for you, you should consider if your marriage has any of the following:
First and foremost, divorce mediation is not an option if violence and/or emotional abuse occurred during the marriage. Mediation is about coming to a mutual divorce agreement on a level playing field. In instances of abuse, there is an excellent chance the abused partner will feel cornered and overwhelmed during meetings. This may result in the abused partner advocating less for themselves or agreeing to an unfair resolution.
If one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not, there’s a chance divorce mediation will work. However, this dynamic can lead to the spouse who does not want a divorce being uncooperative and unreasonable. Additionally, they may do what they can to slow the mediation process down. For example, they might not do assigned homework, cancel mediation sessions at the last minute, or spend time rehashing what led to the breakdown of the marriage, instead of making a good faith effort to reach a settlement.
Divorce mediation may not be the best option if a divorcing couple has a significant power imbalance, which can manifest itself in different ways. For example, a spouse with considerably greater knowledge of the family finances, education, or professional achievement can have a power advantage. Similarly, a spouse who has been the children’s exclusive caregiver and/or has greater support from the children can have a power advantage.
Divorces are almost unilaterally an emotional time in both spouses’ lives. However, where anger, fear, and/or grief are extreme, even when compared to other divorce cases, divorce mediation is not recommended, as a calm and open mind is critical for successful divorce mediation. When emotions dictate a couple’s reactions, divorce mediation often becomes stalled or impossible as a result.
Divorce mediation is not the best idea if you are unclear about your spouse’s financial situation and your spouse is unwilling to fully disclose his or her finances. As previously mentioned, one spouse holding all the financial information can create a power imbalance in the mediation proceedings. Additionally, there’s a chance they could hide that information to avoid giving up more money. You could, as a result, end up walking away with an unfair resolution of property and debt division, alimony, and/or child support.
Ultimately, divorce mediation can only work if both parties want to participate. If you or your spouse believe divorce mediation is a waste of time or resources, you can expect it to be just that. Perhaps one party doesn’t want any professional assistance with the divorce, or one thinks they won’t experience a fair mediation. There are a number of reasons why a spouse may consider mediation pointless.
The negotiations and concessions that occur during mediation require collaboration and a general desire for success – without it, all mediation will fail, no matter how contentious or amiable the divorce.
Divorce mediation can prove an effective and mutually collaborative route for couples to dissolve their marriage, but it’s not always the right solution.