The state of Washington would prefer divorcing couples to work out settlement agreements out of court if at all possible. Couples are generally required to attempt mediation before moving on to litigation. Mediation can prove extremely effective; however, if any of the following are issues in one’s case, mediation may not be a good fit.
Issue number one: domestic violence. When one is trying to get away from an abusive spouse, sitting down to attempt to negotiate a divorce agreement is not likely to work. The dominating party will try to control the situation, leaving the abused party with a settlement that is not in his or her best interests. Having legal counsel negotiate or litigate a fair settlement is usually better when this is an issue.
Issue number two: hidden assets. It is not uncommon for one spouse to try to hide assets regarding divorce proceedings in an effort to better his or her post-divorce financial position. Not only is this wrong, but it is also illegal. Those who believe that their spouses are hiding assets would be better off moving from mediation to litigation as soon as possible. Legal counsel will know what to do to locate the assets so that they can be divided appropriately between both parties.
Issue number three: child abuse. Not all information shared in mediation is kept private. For example, if any claims of child abuse are made during these proceedings, one’s mediator can and will likely report it to the state. The goal is to protect the affected children. That may require a judge to step in to make sure the child custody order truly serves their best interests.
Finally, issue number four: willingness to compromise. Everyone goes into the divorce process with an idea of what they want to get out of it. Unfortunately, not everyone’s ideal settlement will be attainable. For mediation to work, there has to be a willingness to compromise. Without it, a fair settlement may not be reached.
Mediation works for a lot of people. However, the state understands that there are circumstances that exist in some marriages that make it a poor marriage dissolution solution. Washington residents who have questions about mediation and if it is a good fit given their personal circumstances can turn to an experienced family law attorney for guidance.