Common Divorce Mediation Myths and Misunderstandings

Bellevue couple in mediation sessionDivorce mediation comes with a plethora of benefits for some divorcing couples – benefits like lower costs, less stressful, less harmful to children than a court divorce, more privacy, and faster, fairer results. However, many couples still choose to bypass Washington State divorce mediation without taking the time to consider the advantages – or reject it out of hand – because of misconceptions they have about the process. While divorce mediation is certainly not the answer for every couple seeking to separate, it can be the optimal option for others who are looking for a fair and quiet way to divorce. Below, we’ve dispelled several common divorce mediation myths that cause some people to pass mediation by without giving it a chance.

Myth #1: If I Use Divorce Mediation, I Can’t Tell My Story in Court

If you are unsure if divorce mediation is right for you, you can always stop the mediation and turn to litigation at any time you begin to feel that the situation is unfair or not ideal. Going to court continues to be an option once you’ve began mediation – once you go to court, it is more difficult and more expensive to stop proceedings and try mediation.

Myth #2:Mediation Will Only Temporarily Solve Our Problems

A number of studies have confirmed that couples that use mediation not only go to court for related reasons in the future less frequently, but also that they have better relationships with each other and with their children.

Myth #3: Mediation is Only for Couples Who are Going Through an Amicable Divorce

Some people mistakenly believe that divorce mediation is simply a form of counseling – or a last to attempt to reconcile differences and get back together. This is certainly not the case. Mediation is simply a way to settle couple’s differences fairly outside of the courtroom. Mediators fully expect that the couple will not be friendly and will not always agree – that is what they are there for.

Myth #4: Only Simple Divorces Can Use Mediation

Some couples think that if they have children or if they have complicated financial issues that mediation is not a choice for them. But contrary to their beliefs, divorce mediation can handle even the most complex cases as long as both parties are willing to work toward a solution.

Myth #5: Divorce Mediation is Marriage Counseling.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about divorce mediation is that it is only for couples who ultimately want to work on their marriage and get back together. This is simply not the case. Although some aspects of divorce mediation may remind you of therapy – there is a mediator, an emphasis of sharing your honest feelings, and a room where everyone talks out their problems – the ultimate goal of mediation is to fairly settle the details of your divorce.

Myth #6: Mediation is Only for People Going Through a Divorce

Mediation has a number of functions for couples who can’t come to agreements on their own. Mediation can help you develop a parenting plan or child visitation schedule whether or not you are divorcing. In addition, mediation can be used before or after a divorce to settle issues like parenting plan modifications, changes in spousal support, or asset division.

Myth #7: In Mediation, I Won’t Have Any Legal Help or Guidance

Some people have the wrong idea that mediation is just between you, your spouse, and the mediator, but this is not the case. You may absolutely have a lawyer during the mediation process – and a lawyer is recommended if you want to protect your rights and your property. A lawyer can not only help you understand your divorce case, she can also help you understand the best way to use the mediation process.

Myth #8: Mediation is the Best Choice for Every Couple Experiencing Divorce

Mediation is probably still an underused resource for many Washington couples – some don’t know it’s an option and others may dismiss it after hearing a mediation myth. However, in some cases, mediation is not the best option. For example, couples with a history of domestic abuse, couples who have struggled with substance abuse issues, and couples with extremely acrimonious relationships should probably not consider mediation.

Myth #9: My Divorce is Probably Too Complex for Divorce Mediation

While there are certainly cases in which the divorce is too complicated for mediation, you may be surprised how mediation can help you, even if you must return to court for some aspects of property division or child custody. Even couples that have been married for decades and couples that have large amounts of property have successfully used mediation.

Myth #10: Mediation Isn’t for Couples Who Aren’t Speaking

While mediation isn’t often a good option for couples who have a history of domestic abuse or verbal abuse, it isn’t just for couples who are navigating an amicable divorce or couples who are still openly communicating with one another. Divorce mediators are trained to work with spouses who are in conflict, and some amount of conflict is absolutely expected. Mediation is about getting over that conflict or working around that conflict to find a working solution that meets everyone’s needs.

While court divorces are often depicted in movies and on television, mediation sometimes remains a mysterious and overlooked option. Do you think mediation might be a worthwhile option for your Washington State divorce? Speak with a Seattle divorce attorney to learn more by calling Molly B. Kenny at 425-460-0550.

 

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny