Divorce Mediation: When Is It Not Recommended?

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation has become a popular way of dealing with your spouse without having to settle the agreement in court. Since the separation process is already emotionally devastating and stressful, many people choose to finalize the details in a calm and secure environment. This process allows you to come to terms in a civil manner while also being time and cost-efficient. But when is divorce mediation not recommended, and why?

This is why this article will focus on how this practice will affect the divorce process while also elaborating on some divorce mediation tips and tricks. Since each divorce case is unique by its nature, understanding how mediation works will help the separating couple make the right choice based on their circumstances. Rushing into the process will only hurt the chances of coming to an agreement and may further complicate the case.

The last thing anyone wants during a separation is anxiety-inducing arguments and more emotional burdens. So, continue reading to discover the signs you should skip divorce mediation and what you can do instead!

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Before diving into the cases deemed too complex for divorce mediation, it’s important to understand what this process consists of. Simply put, this practice focuses on helping separating couples find the middle ground with the help of a professional neutral mediator. Both sides will work alongside them to find the best solutions for their case and finalize the divorce within a reasonable timeline.

Furthermore, divorce mediation helps with dividing assets equally and can even tackle complex situations such as child custody. It’s said that this practice may take off some of the emotional burdens that a person filing for divorce may experience due to the neutral middle ground it provides. Even when dealing with an uncontested divorce, taking it to court can stir up emotions and prolong the duration further.

However, some situations are too complex for this practice to handle. In such cases, it’s best to seek legal advice from a professional attorney experienced in the specific situation. Even if the person filing for divorce has a tight schedule or is homebound, there are various options online. For example, hiring an online divorce lawyer in San Francisco can help prepare you for the upcoming trial with minimum stress involved. 

When Is Divorce Mediation Not Recommended
Divorce Mediation: When Is It Not Recommended?

After learning what divorce mediation is, the next step is to decide if it’s the right choice for the separating couple. So, when should you avoid divorce mediation? 

As with any more complex cases, there are reasonable grounds to refuse mediation. When dealing with a divorce process, the main goal is to ensure the safety of both parties involved. Thus, the most common reasons someone may want to refuse mediation are the following:

  • History of domestic violence
  • Complex financial situations
  • Time-sensitive situations
  • In case of grudges or revenge
  • One-sided cooperation

1. History of domestic violence

The first case why someone should settle their divorce in court instead of with mediation is if there’s been a history of domestic violence. As mentioned, the safety of the people getting a divorce should always be the number one priority. In relationships where physical or emotional violence has been present, there’s always a risk of it recurring during such a sensitive time.

While divorce mediation may seem less confrontational, the abusive partner may try to manipulate the situation for their personal gain. Furthermore, the mediation process itself may become dangerous if the abuser starts acting violently. Not only can this further complicate the case, but it can also trigger a traumatic response from the victim.

The best way to deal with these situations is to contact an experienced professional specializing in domestic violence and seek legal advice. Always remember that when dealing with abusive individuals, even serving divorce papers may put the other partner at risk. For those who are experiencing physical or emotional violence and feel unsafe in their surroundings, there’s always the National Domestic Violence Hotline that they can contact immediately. 

2. Complex financial situations

The second reason someone may want to avoid divorce mediation is when dealing with complex financial situations. While most people who are planning a divorce may have already done their financial assessments, there are cases when one of the partners is hiding assets or there are debts involved. 

Even though mediation can help with separating the financial assets on the divorcing couple’s behalf and the negotiation, the mediators don’t have the skills to discover if someone is hiding something. Thus, this process is only helpful when both parties are upfront about their incomes, assets, and debts.

There are also cases when the separating couple has a lot of financial wealth. When dealing with complex investments and multiple assets, seeking advice from an attorney or financial expert is best. Doing so ensures that both sides get an equal share and that all the assets are disclosed during the trial. 

Complex financial situations
Divorce Mediation: When Is It Not Recommended?

3. Time-sensitive situations

Time-sensitive situations are another reason why someone may want to avoid divorce mediation. In some cases, both sides want to finish the process as soon as possible. There are also situations where child custody is involved, and the partners want to put as little strain on their kids as possible.

Even though mediation may be considered the most efficient way to go about the divorce, its duration may take longer than predicted. For example, when both sides can’t come to an agreement or multiple assets are involved, it may be best to seek professional legal help from an attorney. This way, both sides will be represented in court and reach a final decision within their desired period. 

4. In case of grudges or revenge

If someone knows their separating partner is holding a grudge or seeking revenge, leaning on divorce mediation is not recommended. Even if the couple decides to hold mediation sessions, they won’t be effective if one person isn’t ready to settle and negotiate. They may even go as far as to use manipulative techniques to get more out of the other person and cause them harm. 

Thus, if one of the sides is out for revenge, it’s best to settle the case in court to ensure it’s finalized promptly and efficiently. This way, the divorce process is less likely to turn into a battlefield, and both parties can go on with their life after it’s done.

5. One-sided cooperation

The last reason why someone may want to avoid divorce mediation is when they’re dealing with one-sided cooperation. Unlike uncontested divorce cases, there are situations where one of the partners doesn’t want to go on with or negotiate the process. This can become troublesome because they may use any means necessary to stall the case. 

Not only is this more time and money-consuming, but mediation won’t work if both parties aren’t invested in the process. Even if the couple has mediation sessions, they’ll be useless without compliance.

Thus, if they take the case to court, finding an agreement and finalizing the divorce will be easier. Even if one of the sides doesn’t want to cooperate, the judge will decide on a settlement depending on the circumstances.

Benefits and Setbacks of Divorce Mediation 

After discovering the circumstances in which it isn’t recommended to lean on divorce mediation, it’s also important to review the setbacks and benefits. So, is divorce mediation worth it? Here are the benefits and setbacks of this process for those interested in it to decide on their own.


  • Less emotional burdens and stress
  • Time-efficient
  • Cost-effective and less expensive
  • Voluntary and informative process
  • Gives you control over the case instead of a judge


  • May prolong the divorce process
  • Unsuitable for cases with an imbalance of power
  • The divorcing couple negotiates by themselves without legal advice
  • Doesn’t help with finding hidden assets


So, when is divorce mediation not recommended, and why? After elaborating on the circumstances where this mediation is not the best option, it’s safe to say that it usually comes down to the safety and duration of the process. Even though these sessions have been proven to be quite effective, they may become troublesome when both sides aren’t ready to negotiate and find a middle ground together.

Furthermore, in relationships with a history of domestic violence or complex financial situations, mediation may do more harm than good. Not only may the process prolong beyond the expected timeline, but it may also be emotionally and mentally devastating for the abuse victim. That’s why it’s recommended to contact a licensed professional experienced in family law or finances, depending on the given circumstances.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that each divorce has a unique nature and is usually devastating for both sides. So before anyone begins this process, it’s best to analyze the situation they’re in to ensure they make the right decision for their case.

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