Why Isn’t Divorce Mediation More Popular?

Why Isn’t Divorce Mediation More Popular?

{3:54 minutes to read}

I believe that divorce mediation should be the first choice for the majority of couples who are separating or divorcing. So then, why isn’t the divorce mediation process used more frequently by couples?

I’ve been pondering this question for a number of years now. My role as chair of the Public Awareness Committee of our statewide NY State Council on Divorce Mediation has helped inform me on this subject, as our organization has tried to bridge the knowledge gap for divorcing couples.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m getting closer to understanding and articulating the various factors involved, and have come up with my own “informal findings and musings,” which I would like to share here.

Misconceptions:

Unfortunately, misconceptions abound about the divorce mediation process. Some of them are fostered by traditional litigation attorneys and other professionals, who make a very good living from their practices and seek to continue their dominance in this field.

I’ve heard so many excuses offered by litigation attorneys as to why divorce mediation allegedly won’t work:

  • The couple has a lot of money
  • There is an imbalance of power
  • There’s too much conflict between the parties
  • One or the other party needs to fight for custody of the children

…and on and on. All of this is not true, of course, but these professionals are intent on doing whatever they can to protect their turf and the increased income they make when conflicts become escalated (as they do in litigation).

Power implications:

Mediation allows couples to make their OWN decisions about important issues such as their children, and their finances. When you think about it, why would a couple choose to give away their power, and instead allow their attorneys and the judge hearing their case, to determine what’s best for their family?

Do they really think a judge, who knows nothing about their children, should ultimately be the arbiter of what’s best for their kids? Wouldn’t it be better to work these issues through together in mediation? This is often possible, at least if the essential elements for mediation are met.

Divorce mediation essentials:

I wrote a blog recently on the requirements for divorce mediation and culled it down to just two essential elements. The first is a willingness to come to the table, together, to dialogue. And the second is a commitment to fully disclose all information that is needed for the couple to make their decisions. That’s it! If those two elements are in place, it’s very likely the mediation process will be successful.

Resetting the default:

Certainly there may be some circumstances in which divorce mediation might not be appropriate (for example, if there’s been domestic violence, or if one of the parties refuses to disclose essential information). But those are the exceptions and not the rule.

For the vast majority of couples, there are many benefits to using the mediation process. For sure, mediation is much less costly than litigation. And just as important, by going through this process, couples learn a better way to communicate with each other that will serve them well in their future dealings, especially if they share children together.

Why do you think divorce mediation isn’t more popular? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

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