By Michelle Garneau

Clearing up the Misconceptions

Divorce mediation is a widely used and extremely successful method for resolving divorce issues.

It has many advantages over choosing the more traditional litigation or court path.

Even though this method for divorce conflict is less costly, less time consuming and more collaborative, there remains some common misconceptions about this process.

Misconception #1

Mediation is only suitable for people who are amicable with one another. It will not work if the parties are not getting along or seeing eye to eye.

Although there are times when conflict is not present in mediation, it is very normal for people in mediation to initially not agree with one another.

Mediation is designed to help people work through their differences and come to a mutual resolution.

A professional, experienced mediator has the tools to help people have productive and respectful discussions while helping them manage their emotions.

Some of these tools include setting out communication guidelines and being future focused.

Misconception #2

A mediator will take sides or act as a “judge” and make decisions for people in mediation.

The mediator remains neutral, supports both parties equally and does not make decisions for them.

They educate, guide and facilitate people’s discussions so a common ground can be reached.

The big advantage of using divorce mediation is that parties always retain control of making the decisions in mediation rather than someone else – a Judge – making these for them.

It makes sense then, that the decisions made in mediation are more sustainable, as they are reached based on what the parties consider to be right and fair for them and their children.

Misconception #3

Using a divorce mediation means parties do not need to consult with a lawyer.

It is important for people to know their legal rights and responsibilities when they are putting together an agreement in mediation and about parenting time, child support (alimony), and the division of assets and debts.

A lawyer giving people legal advice on an “as needed” basis to help in mediation is quite different than the role they would play in a litigation setting.

Parties knowing their rights and obligations will help them to make informed decisions.

Clearing up these misconceptions and explaining the truth about divorce mediation, highlights some of its benefits.

Mediation is an adaptable and collaborative way to resolve issues and come up with a plan that works best for those going through a divorce.

This cooperative, court-recommended alternative moves people forward in a positive manner and is suitable in almost all cases.

This article was published in the Divorce Magazine in the 2021 issue.