For many couples, divorce mediation is a better route than leaving property and custody decisions up to the judge, but mediation is not the right for everyone. Couples who are seeking separation should not use divorce mediation if:
- A spouse is untrustworthy. Successful mediation requires open, honest exchange between the spouses. A spouse who lies about his or her bank accounts, past relationships, inherited or gifted funds, or an investment portfolio is not a suitable candidate for mediation. An attorney can better deal with a dishonest spouse.
- A spouse is manipulative or intimidating. Mediation allows each party to work together to negotiate an agreement that works for both of them. An aggressive spouse who shouts down his or her partner, manipulates feelings, or uses the children as pawns, requires an intermediary.
- An abusive spouse. A spouse with a history of domestic violence or alcohol abuse may be dangerous.
- A spouse who cannot disagree respectfully. Divorcing couples rarely agree on everything during divorce mediation. There must be some give-and-take in mediation, and each party must listen to what the other wants. A disrespectful spouse cannot do this.
Even if spouses have very different ideas about the division of property, they can reach an agreement in mediation. In many cases, couples are able to communicate why they want the assets they have chosen and what they are willing to give up more clearly in mediation than in court.