Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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When mediation is not recommended in a divorce

Couples may seek alternatives to going to court, when possible, when ending their marriage. Mediation is often a recommended option to reduce the stress, time and expense in a divorce. There are many times, however, when mediation may not be an effective process.

Mediation is a process in which spouses attempt to reach agreement on issues with the assistance of a neutral mediator. It first requires financial transparency. If a spouse is hiding assets or not fully disclosing finances, this process will not be productive, and a spouse may need the expertise of a forensic accountant to discover assets.

Like transparency, honesty is also an essential component of mediation. Lies and half-truths are common in divorce. However, mediation will not be successful and there can be no meaningful agreement if a spouse is not fully truthful in providing information or is not participating in this process.

Self-determination, fairness and the willingness to compromise are other important components. However, some spouses may want to make divorce as difficult and emotionally-draining as possible. These spouses will likely make logical and thoughtful negotiations in this process impossible.

Similarly, mediation faces obstacles when a spouse may refuse to confront the reality of divorce for religious or emotional reasons. It is typical, however, that a spouse is uncertain about a future after divorce and mediation may help these spouses overcome their fears.

Mental illness, personal disorders, substance abuse, addiction to pornography and repeated marital infidelities are not necessarily disqualifying situations for mediation. This process can help resolve legal issues when couples recognize that any of these issues are a cause of the divorce.

Domestic violence and child abuse are usually automatic disqualifiers. Mediators cannot retain their neutrality in these situations and must report any information on child abuse to authorities.

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