Mediation: The More Attractive Alternative During Divorce
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By Rob Stewart, Contributor - December 30, 2013 - Updated July 04, 2016


What is the purpose of divorce mediation? I don’t understand why I should have to go to mediation with my ex-wife. We have been married for 7 years and I’ve never known her to negotiation or compromise on anything. Why does the judge think that is going to suddenly change just because he ordered divorce mediation?


The primary purpose of divorce mediation is to encourage the parties to work cooperatively and directly with each other in an effort to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution of their differences. With divorces, that resolution takes the form of a marital settlement agreement that is signed by both parties and is approved by the court.

The alternatives to mediation are litigation or inaction. Litigation is a contentious process in which the two parties are enemies, vying for victory by destroying the other party; the attorneys serve as the designated warriors, while the parties themselves sit helplessly as the opposing attorneys attack and wound each other’s client. Not only is this process very expensive and stressful, but it also fosters anger and resentment between the parties. The result is that one party loses at the expense of the other, whereas mediation seeks to come up with a win/win solution where both parties are satisfied with the overall outcome.

The other alternative to litigation--inaction--means that you allow yourself to be manipulated by the other party (and his/her attorney) without objection and without protecting your own needs and rights. In the end, the proactive party comes out the winner, while the inactive party is the loser.

Neither litigation nor inaction promotes a fair settlement that the parties will honor in the future, nor does either alternative (to mediation) help the parties to move on with their lives in a healthy and positive manner. Mediation at least gives both parties the opportunity to express their needs and concerns, explore options, and develop an agreement that both parties feel is fair and reflects compromises by both parties.

Even though you state that your wife does not usually negotiate or compromise, the judge realizes that mediation is the only course of action that would at least make it possible for her to cooperate and negotiate. In order to make mediation a more attractive alternative for your wife, I suggest that you point out to her that mediation is a viable option to both the added expense and the loss of control/outcome that are hallmarks of litigation and inaction. If your wife sees mediation as a way to avoid the negative aspects of litigation, it is very likely she will at least give mediation a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


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