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Can I Mediate My Divorce If ...

April 12, 2018  | 

{4:30 minutes to read}  Over the years I’ve been mediating, I’ve been asked by potential clients if the following concerns would mean that they could not mediate their separation. Here are some of their questions and my responses:

We disagree on everything. 

Disagreement in mediation is to be expected. Since mediation is a process which aims to resolve conflict, a mediator is trained to help the two of you do just that.


I am very angry at my spouse. 

Anger and other strong emotions are usually present in a mediation. A trained and experienced mediator should be able to address those emotions so they do not derail the process. 

If the anger is unabated, however, or if there is a stream of unrelenting sarcasm, the likelihood of reaching a successful agreement can be diminished. In those circumstances, either working with a divorce coach or possibly co-mediating with a mental health professional could be helpful. 

My spouse won’t tell me about our assets. 

If your spouse refuses to fully disclose income and assets in mediation, there cannot be a mediation, and you will need to proceed in a different manner, so that you are confident that full disclosure is made. 

I don’t know anything about finances 

It’s not unusual that one person took control of the family’s finances in the marriage, leaving the other unaware of things like the account used to pay bills or when the car insurance premium is due. In mediation and through disclosure, you will learn about your assets, and if you need assistance outside of the mediation to prepare and understand a budget or other financial issues, you can individually work with a financial professional

We have complicated assets. 

Some people think that mediation is only useful to resolve matters pertaining to the children, when in fact, all aspects of distribution of assets, allocation of debt and support are to be discussed and resolved. If one of you owns a business or if it’s too difficult to determine income for one or both of you, or if you have a difficult budgeting scenario, working with a financial professional to act as a neutral is always a possibility. 

I don’t feel comfortable with speaking up and making decisions. 

Self-determination is a main tenet of mediation, and you will need to both advocate for yourself and make decisions on your own. While the mediator can help to address an imbalance of power or lack of business experience between the clients, the mediator cannot advocate for a party and will not make the final decisions for you.

But there are some steps you can take so you can mediate. You can have either an attorney or a financial person in the room with you, as long as your spouse agrees. Or, if you feel comfortable enough in a meeting alone, you can meet with the professional outside the mediation to receive guidance as to what to propose and how to respond in the meetings. 

There is domestic violence in our marriage. 

You will need to disclose this to the mediator, and if the mediator believes that he or she has the training and ability to proceed, there will need to be sufficient protocols in place to insure safety. Care must also be taken to assure that self-determination of both parties is possible under the circumstances. 

Concerns such as these may not mean that you cannot mediate as long as you work with the right professionals and are assured that you have all of the information you need to make good decisions.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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