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Handling disputes during divorce: When mediation fails

If you're going to get a divorce or are presently going through a divorce, you're probably familiar with how quickly a divorce can cause arguments. Even if they're short-lived, they cause you stress and anxiety while you're trying to heal emotional wounds.

People may have talked to you about safe ways to negotiate and communicate with your spouse without the fear of personal attacks or aggravating fights. Mediation is the most common form of conflict management in divorce, and it can help you both learn to resolve your conflicts and work together. This form of dispute resolution doesn't always work, though, and you need to know when to turn back to your attorney for protection and to go to court.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which there is a third party who listens to each person going through the divorce. Since this third party is not associated with either side of the divorce, he or she has an untainted outlook on the divorce instead of having feelings based on a relationship with either of the parties.

The mediator's primary goal is to help you resolve disputes without them becoming degrading or stressful. Any kind of argument can be nipped in the bud in mediation, since the mediator can step in and redirect the conversation.

When is mediation ill-advised?

If you are in a situation where you and your spouse can't agree to negotiate with one another, then mediation may not be a good fit. People use mediation for many things from determining retirement division, tax liability, child support and maintenance, parenting time, child custody and the distribution of property. But if no one will work together or discuss possibilities, it's not a good choice for dispute resolution and you're better off letting your attorney negotiate for you and protect your interests in court.

Mediation also isn't a good idea if you and your spouse are aggressive with one another or if you are a victim of domestic violence. In these situations, there's little point in trying to negotiate, because you need to focus on protecting yourself and getting what you need out of your divorce without compromise.

While some would advise mediation, the reality is that it won't work for everyone. If you went through mediation and weren't getting anywhere, then it's important to begin protecting yourself and making arrangements to get what you want in your separation agreement.

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