The choice of whether to divorce a spouse is an incredibly significant decision that often comes after years of consideration. The decision is so important that as people think, “should I get a divorce?” they rarely think, “how should I get a divorce?” Choosing between traditional divorce litigation and divorce mediation can have just as great an impact on your life as choosing to get divorced in the first place. Many of our clients assume that they cannot mediate with their spouse because they do not get along. This could not be further from the truth… few of our divorce mediation clients are “best friends” with their spouse. That being said, there are some factors that each person should consider as they weigh their option of divorce mediation.
- Has there been any domestic abuse or domestic violence in your relationship? When we mediate, we need to know that both parties are able to negotiate from an equal level of power. Mediation does not work if we are worried that one spouse may only be agreeing to something out of fear that they will be physically or emotionally abused later.
- Are there any underlying mental illness issues for either party? Everyone comes to mediation from a different place, and mediation can work for people from all walks of life. However, we must ensure that each participant can fully advocate for themself. Any mental illness issue that prevents a party from thinking clearly or understanding the real-life consequences of their decisions should not be advocating for themselves. However, this does NOT mean that someone who is in counseling or taking prescription medication for a medical health issue is mentally ill.
- Is there any current, chronic substance abuse for either party? As mediators, we approach our clients without judgment. Each person comes to mediation with their own set of challenges. However, like mental illness, substance abuse can create a situation where a party cannot be their own best advocate if they are under the influence of a substance that interferes with their ability to make good decisions for themselves. In those cases, mediation is not a good option.
After thinking about the above concerns, ask yourself if you and your spouse can commit to mediation and be honest and transparent with each other. If the answer is “yes”, then mediation could be a healthier and more cost-effective way to move towards divorce
Want to learn more about mediation? Contact Marta J. Papa to schedule your initial consultation today!