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When is Divorce Mediation Not the Right Approach?

On behalf of Gregory W. Stevens, Attorney at Law on Saturday, September 7, 2019.

As you consider your options for divorce, you have probably thought about pursuing mediation, and for good reason. Mediation comes with multiple benefits, such as a lower cost, faster proceedings, more cooperation between you and your ex and less of an impact on your children.

While this approach is always easier the less complex and hostile the situation, mediation is not just for simple, amicable cases. It can work for high-asset couples, those with minor children and even people who do not get along if they are willing to try. In fact, it is mandatory in Utah to at least go to one mediation session if you have any dispute in your divorce. However, there are some instances in which mediation may not be the appropriate final choice.


When your safety is on the line, it is probably better to use the traditional route of litigation for your legal, physical and emotional protection. In addition, an abusive spouse may try to manipulate your feelings during the process. In cases of safety, you can motion to excuse mandatory mediation. The more evidence you can provide for your reason, the more likely you will receive an approval of your request.

Refusal to Cooperate

Even if your spouse is not abusive by definition, he or she may still absolutely refuse to cooperate in any of the following ways:

  • Make scheduling the session difficult
  • Fail to show up to the meeting
  • Disrespect the mediator
  • Not listen to anything you have to say
  • Lie about assets and/or incidents

You not only have the right to feel safe, but to also feel heard in mediation. If your spouse is unwilling to give you that space, then going to court may be the only way to have a voice and achieve a fair outcome. While mediation may be the ideal method for divorce, what matters most is doing what is effective for you and your family.