Is it possible to mediate a high-conflict divorce?

If you are getting divorced, alternative disputes resolution methods like mediation can be beneficial for many reasons: they can be faster than litigation, not to mention less expensive and more peaceful.

However, too many people assume that mediation can’t or won’t work for their situation. People in high-conflict divorces often think this, but readers should understand that mediation can still work in these situations.

Reasons why mediation can still work 

Even if you and your soon-to-be ex can’t seem be in the same room without fighting, there are a few reasons why mediation can still work. 

  • You will have support. Parties work with a mediator who is trained in helping disputing parties reach agreements, which, as this article notes, can be very effective in high-conflict divorces. A mediator can minimize contentious topics, keep discussions relevant and focused, and ensure each party gets equal opportunities to speak. 
  • You don’t have to resolve every issue in mediation. As we discuss below, there may be topics that are too contentious or complex to solve outside of court. However, coming to an agreement on even a couple issues in mediation can save parties time, money and energy.
  • Peaceful, amicable approaches can minimize the incentive or motivation to argue. If you know that you need to work together to reach agreements, it can be easier for both parties to set aside anger, bitterness and frustration to get through the process more easily. 

When it may not be appropriate

As we mentioned, there are scenarios in which mediation and other alternatives to litigation may be unsuccessful. This can include divorces involving domestic violence or highly complex assets, or if one party does not consent to the divorce.

Discussing mediation and other options with an attorney

While mediation may not be right for everyone in every case, it is important not to dismiss it as an option without legal consultation. Talking to an attorney can help you better understand the legal process and what you can expect, whether you mediate or litigate divorce-related issues.