Five Misconceptions About Mediation

- Gary E. Williams

Mediation is not a miracle cure for all divorce disagreements, but with the right preparation, it can be an effective method for reaching a fair, mutually agreeable settlement.

Do not let common misconceptions make you hesitant to try mediation:

1. Mediation is impossible since my ex-spouse never listens to me.

Mediation gives both parties in the divorce the chance to articulate their goals and concerns, and mediators are trained to facilitate communication between the parties. They often meet with each party separately to insure that each party can express themselves freely and openly.

2. I do not have time to go through the extra step of mediation.

Mediation can be a faster, less expensive route to finalizing a divorce agreement.

3. I don’t want a mediator to make the final decision about my divorce.

Unlike a judge, a mediator has no authority to make decisions in your case.

4. I do not want to be bullied into signing an unfair agreement.

You are under no obligation to sign any agreement, and you can terminate the mediation if you feel pressured to do so. As a neutral third party, the mediator has no stake in the outcome of the session, and if one spouse exhibits coercive behavior, the mediator may end the session. Mediation may not be a good option when there is a strong power imbalance between the two parties.

5. I feel insecure going into mediation without my lawyer present.

You have the right to have your divorce attorney with you at mediation. If you are self-represented, it is a good idea to consult with a skilled divorce attorney in preparation for your mediation. And, if you have children, retirement accounts, or other complicated financial issues, you should definitely have an attorney retained to represent you throughout the entire divorce process.