Frequently I’ll speak with someone who tells me that divorce mediation won’t work for them. “We don’t communicate.” “There’s no trust.” “We’ve tried to talk, but the discussion spins out of control.”
As a divorce mediator, this saddens me. These folks are talking themselves out of mediation, an approach designed specifically to address such problems. Here’s how I hear them:
(1) because we can’t agree, we should go to court (which escalates the conflict);
(2) since we don’t communicate well, we need to go to court (which aggravates the communication problem);
(3) because we don’t trust each other, we must go to court (where mistrust will zoom). They lawyer up, and the battle begins.
The following is an excerpt from an article titled Mediation: Negotiating a More Satisfactory Divorce:
A facilitative approach [involves] trying to de-escalate conflict and improve the relationship between divorcing spouses…. In facilitative mediation, the divorce mediator focuses on helping parties achieve open communication….
“Participants whose mediator took a facilitative approach…generally reported high-quality outcomes…As compared with those engaged in [court] litigation, participants in mediation reported that they reached better agreements, as measured by how fair, comprehensive, and clear the agreement was….
Overall, the results suggest that couples would be wise to be aided by professionals who believe that reducing conflict and encouraging open communication are more likely to promote a satisfactory divorce than a competitive approach would.”
Don’t assume that your divorce can’t be handled through the mediation because the two of you aren’t amicable, can’t communicate, and don’t trust each other.
The low-risk, relatively low-cost nature of mediation makes it the ‘go-to’ divorce-resolution process, one you may wish to try before heading off to court.