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When should mediation not be used?

Mediation is one of several dispute-resolution mechanisms available to separated and divorcing spouses. It involves using the services of a neutral, third-party mediator who leads the spouses through a series of private sessions to explore whether they can resolve some or all of their issues. The mediator helps the spouses communicate and make their own decisions, but does not make a ruling or even offer suggestions.

In many cases, mediation is an effective, and cost-effective alternative to court. But it is not a solution for all scenarios.

For example, it is not recommended in situations where the former spouses cannot cooperate with each other. The success of the process hinges on both spouses’ willingness to communicate and work on finding solutions that both sides can live with. In some divorce scenarios, former spouses cannot even be in the same room together, let alone try to resolve their differences.

Also, mediation is not recommended if there has been domestic abuse in the relationship. The more informal, intimate setting of a mediation session can leave the abused spouse in a fearful or intimidated state in the presence of the other spouse. This makes it unlikely that he or she can fully advance his or her legal rights and objectives, even with the mediator’s help.

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