When parties divorce, many will start the process in mediation sessions either because they choose to or their county requires it. Mediation gives divorcing spouses the opportunity to resolve matters themselves without going to court.
Often, mediation proves to be successful. Participants exit the process feeling satisfied that they could maintain more control over the outcome than if they had gone to trial. However, that is not always what happens.
Reasons why mediation may not work
There are several reasons why attempts to mediate a divorce may not be successful. In some cases, the issues are too complicated for individuals to resolve themselves. They must present evidence, have witnesses testify and make arguments in court to have a judge make a decision.
In other cases, parties simply cannot reach an agreement themselves. There may be one or a few issues that prove to be impossible to resolve outside of court.
It is also possible that mediation is not a safe environment to resolve disputes. For example, if one party has a history of abusing or manipulating the other person, it can be unrealistic to expect cooperative efforts to work.
Finally, mediation may not be the best solution if one or both parties refuse to participate. Refusal could include intentionally sabotaging negotiations, holding onto unrealistic expectations or failing to show up for mediation sessions.
What happens next?
If mediation fails, parties may decide to try it again with a new mediator if they are not successful the first time around. They might also choose to try a collaborative divorce.
However, if alternatives to litigation do not settle all divorce-related matters, those that remain unresolved will go to the courts for a judge to make a decision.
Weighing your options
If you have the option to resolve divorce-related matters outside of court, it is an option worth considering – even if you do not expect to resolve every issue this way. Options like mediation and collaborative divorce can be more amicable, faster and less costly than litigation.
That said, litigation may be best in complicated, unsafe or hostile situations.
For the best chance at a satisfactory outcome in your divorce, you would be wise to consider all the options and prepare your case accordingly.