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Does mediation work for everyone?

Mediation is a good option for almost everyone, but there are a few exceptions.  For one thing, if you think you have a chance in the court system of getting everything you want, mediation is unlikely to satisfy you.  Other circumstances that are likely to preclude mediation are:


  • Violence:  If you’re intimidated by your spouse, who uses bullying or emotional abuse to try to control and manipulate you, you may not want to mediate.  A lawyer might help you to protect your rights more effectively.

  • Drug or alcohol abuse:  The reasons for this should be obvious.  Someone who has an addiction problem should be in some kind of recovery program before you consider mediating.


Some people think that mediation won’t work unless divorcing spouses get along well.  But you don’t have to like or even completely trust your spouse in order to mediate successfully – you only need to be confident that your spouse will show up and make a real effort to settle.  If you’re not sure, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and try it.  If one of you blames the other for the divorce and is still very angry, you may need a cooling-off period before you start mediation.


Your chances of success in mediation are enhanced if:


  • Neither you nor your spouse in interested in reconciliation.  If either of you still wants to try staying married, you’d be better of going to marriage counseling first.  Mediation isn’t about make the marriage work – it’s about making the divorce work.

  • You both consider it a priority to maintain good relations with each other.  You might feel this way for the sake of your children, or because you want to honor the relationship you had and the history you share.

  • You both disclose everything about your finances.  Most mediators will ask you to disclose financial information to your spouse voluntarily, as part of the mediation.  If one person is withholding information – and particularly if you suspect that your spouse might be hiding assets, you can still consider mediating.  But you’ll want to make sure you are getting all the information to which you’re entitled.

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