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Obstacles to mediation

Couples undergoing divorce should consider mediation as a cost-effective and less contentious method to resolve differences. As opposed to litigation where a judge has the final say on the decree, couples play a role in reaching compromises and may reject terms.

However, all couples may not be candidates for mediation. Although spouses should keep an open mind about this procedure, there are obstacles to its success.

First, mediation requires a spouse to have a good-faith desire that their ex does well and considers their point-of-view. They must also empathize or at least respect each other's view of reality and needs even though they have different experiences. If they cannot set-aside feelings of blame or victimhood, mediation may be unsuccessful.

Any violence in the marriage disqualifies mediation. There can be no empathy for any spouse who engages in abuse.

Infidelity, especially if it was well-known, may make mediation difficult. An angry or humiliated spouse may not be a successful candidate for this process unless they are fully committed to seek a collaborative agreement in both parties' interests.

The length of time can also be disqualifying. Because the mediator cannot order relief, a spouse may use it to stall on responsibilities such as paying support. Sometimes, parties should be prepared to delay their divorce to work out differences in mediation. Several sessions may be needed to work out all outstanding issues.

There may also be starts and stops in this process. For example, parents may faithfully comply with a co-parenting agreement. This may occur over time and help erase rancor that is blocking the resolution of other issues.

Couples cannot stop advocating for their best interest. This would occur, for example, when a spouse would forego child support in return for receiving sole custody even though this is against the children's best interest. An attorney can help assure that a spouse pursues reasonable options and that their rights are protected during this process.

Source: LifeHacker, "8 signs that you should skip mediation and head straight for the divorce lawyer," By Leigh Anderson, Aug. 11, 2017

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