Seven Common Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation

Mediation can be a practical and less stressful route for many divorcing couples. Mediation can take less time, cost less, and result in a more amicable resolution that works for both spouses and their children. However, many couples fail to seriously explore the option of mediation because they are not familiar with the process and may have numerous misconceptions.

Before you assume that the traditional litigation route is automatically the best choice for you, it can never hurt to discuss the mediation process and consider whether it can help you. The following are seven of the myths about mediation that should never stop you from considering mediation as an option.

1. We argue all the time, so there is no way we should try mediation.

Many people think that mediation is only meant for couples who can already agree. However, if you already agree on how to resolve your divorce-related issues, there would be no need for mediation. Mediation works to help disagreeing couples find common ground so they may be able to cooperate. You would be surprised how some couples who are constantly arguing may be able to reach an agreement through mediation.

2. There is no need to call a divorce lawyer if I want to do mediation.

It is still a wise idea to consult with a divorce attorney if you are planning to end your marriage. There are different options – including mediation – and you should consider all the possibilities. It is also important to have a lawyer as an advocate and consultant during the mediation process.

3. Mediation is intended to reconcile a marriage.

This is decidedly not the purpose of mediation. It is not intended to be a counseling session or to get spouses to change their minds about a divorce. Instead, it is focused on cooperating and accomplishing mutual goals so each of you can move forward after divorce in the best position possible.

4. My spouse is manipulative and bullies me. There is no way I can stand up for myself in a mediation session.

Mediators know that there may be a power imbalance between divorcing spouses, and they are trained for this type of situation. Mediators aim to empower a party that may be in a weaker position to negotiate and stand up for themselves. Mediation works to achieve equitable resolutions – even when one spouse seems to have the upper hand in the relationship.

Furthermore, you can always have your attorney attend mediation sessions with you. This can help ensure you have a strong advocate who is focused on your interests and who will not be affected by your spouse’s manipulative behavior. If your spouse tries to intimidate you by having their lawyer show up, you have the ability to counter that and have yours there, as well.

5. If I agree to mediation, I lose my ability to go to court.

This is a complete misconception, as you never give up your right to litigate issues in the event mediation is unsuccessful. Many people confuse mediation with collaborative divorce, which does require a signed agreement not to go to court. Mediation, however, does not require an agreement. Many couples who are unable to settle matters in mediation move forward with the litigation process.

6. Mediation requires a large up-front fee.

There is no question that divorce can cause financial stress for many people. The idea of putting down a significant sum for a process you’re not even sure will work is not an attractive one. The good news is that mediation does not require a lump sum fee before you even start. Instead, you pay for mediation by the hour, the overall cost will depend on how quickly you and your spouse work together. You will also be fully aware of how many hours you’ve spent in mediation, so you can better control the cost.

7. Divorce is always going to be painful, so why try to make the process easier?

For some people, divorce will cause emotional stress and pain no matter how you resolve your case. However, reaching an agreeable resolution can leave you feeling better than fighting it out in court. Mediation encourages cooperation and can result in a more civil situation than litigation. This is especially important if you have children, as mediation can put you in a better position to co-parent with your spouse. Mediation also gives you more control over the outcome of your case, so your future and fate will be in your hands instead of the court’s. This can be empowering and can better prepare you to move forward after a divorce.