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4 Misconceptions About Mediation in Divorce

Most lawyers would recommend mediation before litigation in divorce cases. In fact, they are required by law to inform clients about mediation options. As a family lawyer trained in divorce mediation, I have helped hundreds of couples get through the process to settle on a working divorce agreement that is favourable for their children and themselves. However, there are still some misconceptions holding people back from choosing mediation in divorce.

1. Mediation Only Works for ‘Simple’ Cases

Is divorce ever simple? Every relationship has its own character and complexity. Rather than being a reason not to choose mediation, complexity is an excellent reason to go for it. In divorce and family mediation, both spouses have the opportunity to have their say and offer evidence to support their position. In family court, where time is limited, you may be forced to prioritize to get through the process. After a court-decided divorce, people often feel they have unfinished business that they could not address. The opposite is true of mediation in divorce, where the process is not complete until the concerns of both parties have been fully addressed.

2. Spouses Must be Amicable

Divorce mediation is essentially a negotiation. In most negotiations outside of family law, there is no expectation that the parties must be amicable to reach an agreement. In divorce, there is often plenty of hurt, anger, and resentment that does not exist in other types of negotiations. But one of the benefits of mediation is addressing the issues so you can begin to move beyond them.

3. No Good for High Net Worth Divorces

When it comes to divorce, the issues are often very similar if you have very little or a whole lot of money and assets to divide. In both situations, divorce mediation looks at all of the financial implications of a divorce to provide a fair and equitable division of property and income allocation. In mediation, you still have the choice to retain legal counsel to help ensure your rights are protected. Often divorce mediators are themselves lawyers. In families with high net worth, mediation once again has the potential to yield a better outcome than litigation in family court. Mediation includes a stage where financial disclosure is exchanged. Often a financial neutral or other professional can be jointly retained and participate in the mediation.

4. Co-parenting Disagreements Need a Court Decision Especially Where There has Been Violence

In cases of family violence, there may be good reason to go to court to handle the situation. For example to obtain a restraining order. However, mediation may be more appropriate and safer than court in some cases. Most divorce cases where children are involved can be settled favourably—for the children as well as the parents—by mediation. Mediation is a much less stressful way for children to experience divorce. It tends to be less intimidating than family court, and kids get reassurance from seeing their parents reach an agreement on their wellbeing – together. Spouses have the opportunity to share their co-parenting ideas and concerns to be fully addressed by the mediation process, which can lead to greater compliance and fewer arguments in the future.

Overall, divorce mediation or family mediation is a better process that often costs less and results in more favourable resolutions in less time. Concerns about complexity, you or your spouse’s ability to cooperate, the amount of property you have to divide, and whether you are on the same page with parenting won’t hinder the mediation process. On the contrary, mediation is built to handle these types of issues.

Get in touch with me to find out more about mediation for divorce, and let’s talk about whether it is suitable for your situation. You may be pleasantly surprised!