Mediation is a welcomed option for many Washington State couples seeking a divorce. Mediation is often a more private, less expensive, and less traumatic experience than divorce litigation – and couples who use mediation are less likely to return to the courtroom in the future for issues relating to child custody and property division. However, mediation is not for everyone. Some couples with special circumstances may find that court is a better option. Here are four circumstances that may make court an appropriate choice:

•    If your divorce involves substance abuse issues. If your marriage involves drug or alcohol addictions, mediation is probably not a viable option, especially if child custody and child visitation rights are an issue in your divorce.
•    If your divorce involves a history of domestic violence or child abuse. Domestic violence is a crime, and should be handled in the court system. If a mediator knows that a divorce involves domestic abuse or even suspects that domestic abuse is a factor in a divorce, he or she will usually recommend that the couple choose divorce litigation. This route is safer both for the abuse victim and any children that are involved.
•    If either party refuses to respect the mediation process. Mediation can be successful with even the most contentious couples – as long as both parties believe in the mediation process and are willing to listen and work with the mediator. If one person decides to use the mediation to create further conflict, the process will never work and the couple must move to divorce litigation.
•    If a divorce involves very complicated finances. Divorce mediators can take on fairly complicated cases when it comes to assets, debts, and the division of property. However, some cases can be exceedingly complex and lend themselves better to a courtroom situation.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington