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I'm getting divorced: Is mediation right for me?

Deciding to file for divorce is not a decision people make lightly. People can go through months or years of unresolved problems, fighting and unhappiness before deciding that there is no way besides a divorce to deal with a broken marriage.

However, this doesn't mean that two people can't figure out how to dissolve that marriage as amicably as possible. Under these circumstances, alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation can prove to be the best means of resolving family law matters. If you are wondering if mediation can work for you, you can ask yourself some questions.

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you could struggle with mediation, and options including litigation may be necessary or more effective.

  1. Do you and/or your spouse have very complex or significant assets to divide?
  2. Have there been allegations or a history of emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse in your relationship?
  3. Do you and your ex disagree about who should have physical and/or legal custody of the kids?
  4. Would you (or your ex) rather be "right" than compromise? 
  5. Is one of you so angry or bitter that you refuse to cooperate or communicate?

In any of these scenarios, you could choose or be allowed to forego mediation, as it is unlikely that you could come up with a fair, legally binding agreement in that environment.

However, it should be noted that even if mediation doesn't work for one area of your divorce, like dividing complex assets, you could still work through other issues with mediation. It doesn't necessarily have to be all or nothing when it comes to how you are able to resolve the various details of your divorce.

In order to learn more about the methods of alternative dispute resolution including mediation, or if you feel you would rather pursue litigation, consulting an attorney first will be important. He or she will help you assess your situation and the choices in front of you, and provide critical guidance as you navigate the divorce process.