How to Decide on Divorce Mediation
Most cases of divorce are amenable for divorce mediation, but that is not always the case. Certainly the easiest reason to divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” but ultimately, the one certain thing a divorcing couple can agree on is that the relationship is no longer functional, and it is best for the parties to sever their relationship. While it can take a significant amount of effort on both parts to make an amicable divorce, it can happen. Some of the warning signs of a less than civil mediation are listed below.
Mediation Services Can Be Disrupted by an Imbalance of Power
Imbalances of power are not limited strictly to cases of abuse. In fact, if abuse is present, it is probably for the best that litigation is the course of action. However, power imbalances do not necessarily imply abuse, but they can certainly complicate the process of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Examples include one partner who is the primary breadwinner or when the decision-making process has been primarily dominated by one party or the other.
This complicates mediation because the more powerful party is used to getting their way, and the submissive party is used to not getting what they want or deserve. Since mediation is geared toward a “win-win” situation, this dynamic all too often leads to a “I win, you lose” situation, where the submissive party agrees to a situation that does not benefit them. This dynamic is not amenable to the mediation process, and needs to be quelled from the very beginning.
Trust Issues Remove Civility in Civil Mediation
Another huge complication for civil mediation is a lack of trust between the two parties. The power balance may be in place, both parties want the dissolution of their marriage to be made quickly and quietly, but there is an edge of distrust. This can completely disrupt the agreement process.
Whenever the element of distrust is in place, it automatically puts the parties in a competitive state. They approach mediation without being in “good faith,” and handle things as if it is a chess game. Each stage of the process is approached with a sense of apprehension about how each agreement can affect the overall divorce. Is there a clause there that enables a compromising position? This is still an attitude of “win-or-lose,” which defies the point of divorce mediation.
These issues, and more, are completely workable within the mediation process, but without the willingness on both sides to “get it over with,” mediation can break down and become a more appropriate situation for litigation. A key element is ownership of one’s feelings in the case. If both sides can be brought to acknowledge their personal contribution to the breakdown of the marriage, divorces do not have to be a messy, lengthy, public and expensive event.