5 Obstacles to an Effective Divorce Mediation

Generally, mediation works best when both parties are ready to divorce and move forward. Mediation is not appropriate in every situation and a good mediator will not take your case if he or she believes that your situation will worsen or not have a successful outcome.

Here are a few obstacles to an effective divorce mediation:

  1. Mental illness or drug/alcohol abuse: Mediators have a duty to screen folks that are unable to make decisions for themselves, including mental health issues or drug or alcohol abuse.
  2. Not in “Same Place”:  Meaning one spouse wants a divorce but the other spouse is not ready or would like to work on the marriage. A mediator may refer you to another professional such as a divorce coach or counselor to help you decide whether it is time to move on before mediating.
  3. Power imbalance: When there is a severe power imbalance, domestic abuse or threat of domestic abuse, (including PFA). Even if there is no physical danger involved, the threat of psychological danger would cause difficulties for one of the parties involved to reach a fair agreement. A mediator will refer you to an attorney or other professional to guide you through this process.
  4. High conflict personality:  Divorce mediation may not work if there is a “high conflict personality” involved.  Whatever the reason (could be physiological), the person just can’t seem to mediate or come to an agreement. Studies show that some of these cases can be mediated but they typically take three times as long as a typical case. Your mediator may refer you to an attorney, divorce coach or counselor that can better facilitate the process.
  5. Unwillingness to compromise: Mediation is a compromise, each party must negotiate and compromise a “fair” agreement. Even the best mediator cannot obtain a compromise from a party that is not willing to do so.

If you would like to learn more about mediating your divorce or custody issues, email Dawn Clement  at Dawn@ClementMediation.com for a consultation.


5 Obstacles to an Effective Divorce Mediation

How To Save Money On Your Divorce

Divorce can be difficult and financial worries often burden already overwhelmed families.  Often folks ask how to save money  and keep afloat financially during the process.  This can be difficult at times, especially if one spouse moves out, the household expenses will typically increase, not decrease.  During divorce mediation, we have a conversation about income and expenses and how to divorce with financial peace. Here are a few helpful tips we discuss to save money on your divorce:

Stay out of court!

The cheapest way to divorce is to avoid the court room!  Litigating your divorce in court can possibly end in bankruptcy or financial ruin for both you and your spouse. Consider using a qualified mediator to empower you to make decisions for you and your family.  Mediation fees are typically much less expensive compared to litigation fees during the divorce or custody process. Your chances of a quick, inexpensive and amicable divorce significantly increase by simply staying out of the court room.

Ask for an estimate

At the initial divorce consultation, ask for an estimate of the fees and whether you will need to pay a large retainer upfront.  A retainer is a lump sum, advance payment to your attorney to begin your case, and can be in the $2000 – $5000 or more range.  If cash flow is an issue, consider asking whether your attorney offers “unbundled” legal services. Unbundling may help your cash flow because you only pay for the services you actually use or need, essentially you will pay for your services as you go. As a mediator, I find that unbundling my services helps families move forward without the financial stress of large upfront payments.

Know your finances

Gather and organize your financial statements and prepare a budget worksheet on your own. By becoming better aware of your financial situation, rather than asking your lawyer to prepare these documents for you, will save you precious time and money. If you are using a mediator, making copies and sharing these documents with your spouse ahead of time will also help save you time and money during the process.

Hire your own professionals

You and your spouse may need to hire other professionals such as accountants, certified divorce financial planners, appraisers, real estate agents and therapists. Using professionals to assist in business valuations, valuing personal assets, investments, retirement accounts, homes, and taxes can be helpful but are not always necessary during a divorce. Agreeing on whether to hire these experts with your spouse and agreeing to share in these expenses can save your family time and money.

Be organized

When preparing for a mediation or meeting, organizing your thoughts will save you time and money.  Write a list of your questions and the important matters that you wish to discuss. Staying focused and prepared will help you make decisions and find solutions efficiently. Gather and organize your paperwork and documents in a special folder, and make the necessary copies, so that you are prepared to provide the information when asked in a timely manner.


You and your spouse have previously had to communicate during your marriage and make important decisions.   During the divorce process it can be helpful to continue to talk to your spouse about the big decisions for your family. When divorcing you will need to make decisions about your children and pets and how to divide your assets and debts. Try to find common ground and discuss the most effective way to distribute the cars, homes, pets and bank accounts. This may seem like common sense, but the more you and your spouse talk and communicate with each other directly instead of through lawyers the less expensive your divorce will be!

If you would like more information about a healthy divorce, contact Dawn Clement at Dawn@ClementMediation.com for more information or to set up a consultation.

Dawn Clement
Attorney & Mediator


How To Save Money On Your Divorce