Washington’s Association of Dispute Resolution Centers finds that over 5,000 adults and 3,000 children benefitted from the assistance of mediation to resolve family disputes in 2022. Many of these cases include arranging property division and parenting plans during divorce.
Still, many people still have misconceptions about mediation. Clearing up common myths can help those who would benefit from mediation to take advantage of this tool.
Myth 1: The couple must agree on all points
Many people perceive divorce mediation as beneficial only when a couple already agrees on all aspects of their separation. In reality, mediation effectively resolves conflicts and finds amicable solutions, even in the most complex cases. For example, page 19 of Washington’s Family Law Handbook recommends mediation as an option for resolving disputes over parenting plans.
The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates open communication, guiding the couple toward mutually acceptable outcomes. Through mediation, couples have the power to craft an individualized agreement that suits their unique situation, rather than relying on a judge to make decisions for them.
Myth 2: Mediation is only for low-income couples who need to save money
Many people believe that mediation is only for low-income couples who cannot afford other options. However, divorce mediation can be an excellent option, regardless of their income.
This is because mediation emphasizes communication and compromise, which are essential for reaching mutually beneficial solutions. The process can save both time and money, but a primary advantage is reducing the level of acrimony and providing a smoother transition for the whole family.
Myth 3: Mediation is really just therapy to save the marriage
While a therapist can be a mediator, the couple has no obligation to use a therapist as the mediator or to try to work things out. The goal of mediation is to help couples work collaboratively through the decision-making process relating to their separation or divorce.
The mediator’s role is as a neutral third party who assists both parties in coming to agreements that benefit everyone. While the mediator may create a supportive and non-judgmental setting, the focus is not on analyzing past traumas or exploring emotions. Instead, it is about resolving legal and practical matters in a way that is private, affordable and efficient.
Contrary to what some may think, mediation is often an effective path through divorce. When the parties handle the process correctly, it can even get better results than litigation, depending on the circumstances.