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Divorce Mediation: A Useful Tool for High-Conflict Divorces

Posted by Jason Wagner | Aug 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

You may be under the impression that mediation only works for divorces in which both parties agree to go their separate ways amicably. That is just not the case. Mediation is the better choice in almost all situations simply because it saves you time and money and costs considerably less than litigation.

Litigation is when the two parties battle in court. During litigation, the court will render any final decision on behalf of the couple. This means that the decision-making power is in the hands of the court. Mediation can be used as a method of avoiding the court and, when appropriate, makes more sense than litigation. In this article, we will discuss how a Sacramento divorce lawyer can help you mediate a high-conflict divorce.

Can Mediation Still Work in High-Conflict Divorces?

Yes, it can. Wagner Family Law has helped several couples in high-conflict divorces reach a settlement that they could live with. Part of the issue here is that litigation, which is the standard way that marriages are dissolved, is too costly, both financially and emotionally. When children are involved, bickering parents can cause trouble in the home. Mediation represents a way to find common ground, resolve any lingering issues, and move forward with their lives. 

Mediation Versus Litigation: An Overview

Mediation is preferable in most instances, and many courthouses will require couples to try mediation before taking their issues to court. The biggest incentive to mediate even a high-conflict divorce is that the decision-making power resides in the hands of the spouses. In other words, they will have to agree to terms before taking their divorce decree before a judge. 

It makes sense to mediate a divorce in high-asset cases as well. This is because high-asset couples do not want their finances to become a part of the public record. In a litigated divorce, the court will make decisions on issues such as asset distribution and alimony. That means that your finances can become part of the official record. Couples who approach asset distribution in mediation will not have their finances become part of the public record. 

Mediation further presents the better choice because the proceedings are conducted in a non-adversarial setting. High-asset divorces often entail so much information that it may not be in your best interests to let a judge decide them. Going to court can make the animosity between the two parties worse. 

In mediation, there may be some conflict between the two spouses, but it is contained within the setting of a non-adversarial process. Instead, the parties attempt to find a compromise between their two positions. 

Finding an Attorney to Help Mediate a High-Conflict Divorce

Your first step to mediating a high-conflict divorce is to find an attorney with specific skills. These include the ability to negotiate, de-escalate, and find common ground. Your attorney should be patient, reduce animosity, and all both parties to feel like they are being heard. 

Divorce mediation can be a powerful tool for couples that are in a stressful situation. Mediation provides couples with the ability to discuss their situation in a non-adversarial setting. In other words, they can talk through many of the problems that are holding back divorce proceedings. The alternative is a long and contentious battle where the courts will make all the important decisions. 

A good mediator will spend more time on a case involving two high-conflict parties. It may take longer than a mediation between two low-conflict parties, yet still be cheaper and less time-consuming than litigation. High-conflict parties to a divorce need to believe that their interests are being attended to by a neutral third party.

To move the mediation forward, the mediator must find leverage to persuade each party to set aside their animosity to reach an agreement. Leverage can be as simple as avoiding the cost of litigation, mounting legal fees, and the best interests of their children. Moving past the blame game is of paramount importance. 

If one client is the source of the majority of the conflict, then the mediator must diffuse their anger by using effective communication. They will ask questions such as, “What don't you like about this situation?” The mediator will gently coax them toward a resolution that will avoid the cost of litigation.

The Challenges of Mediating a High-Conflict Divorce

High-conflict divorces are generally characterized by a range of hurdles that can make the process more difficult. Individuals engaged in the divorce may have significant animosity toward the other party. 

The three most important factors in your divorce will be child custody, asset distribution, and alimony. When couples blame one another for the breakdown of the marriage, finding any common ground can be difficult. 

High-conflict cases generally include two individuals with deep-seated hostility and anger toward one another. They may be inclined to attack the other spouse. This is generally a stress response. If they engage in litigation, that animosity will surely become worse. The result is a relationship in which neither spouse trusts the other. Yet they may have children who are dependents. The children will require two parents who can organize time around them. California courts still believe that having both spouses be part of a child's life is the best approach available. Litigated divorces reduce the likelihood that their co-parenting will be successful.

Mediation Does Not Prevent You From Litigating

If mediation does not work, then you still have the option of litigating the divorce. It will cost more, be more contentious, and there will be a loss of privacy. But mediation does not prevent you from pursuing litigation. That's why many couples choose to mediate their divorce first before entering into litigation. Mediation is almost always the best option when dissolving a California marriage. 

Talk to a Sacramento, CA Divorce Attorney Today

Wagner Law Firm can help you resolve a high-conflict divorce in mediation. Don't believe that just because you and your spouse are at odds that mediation is not the best choice. We have helped hundreds of couples dissolve their marriages while reducing their stress levels. Call today to learn more. 

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