Many couples who decide to end their marriage want to do it via mediation rather than litigated divorce proceedings. Mediation is usually less adversarial and less expensive than divorce, even though it often takes longer. However, it's not the best choice in all circumstances.

Sometimes, until you're in the process, it can be difficult to know if mediation is the best way to settle all of the issues involved in your divorce. However, there are some circumstances in which it may be best not to waste the time and money trying it.

Both Spouses Aren't on Board with Mediation

One of the key factors in predicting a successful mediation is that both people want it, or are, at least, willing to try it. Couples don't actually need to have an amicable relationship to have a successfully mediated divorce. However, it does require that neither person is out to hurt the other one, seek revenge or use dishonest means to get what they want. The goal is to work toward an outcome that both can find acceptable.

Spouses Have Conflicting Views of Reality

No two divorcing people will view the circumstances that led to their break-up exactly the same way. However, mediation won't work if one person is denying the other's view of reality or locked in one's own unreality. The process requires couples to work closely, which means at least listening to and considering each other's viewpoint.

One Spouse Can't Stand Up for Him- or Herself

If one spouse has had the bulk of the power in the relationship, that dynamic is likely to follow the couple into mediation. Perhaps there has been physical, emotional or verbal abuse. One spouse may just have a much stronger personality that overwhelms the other. Don't expect the mediator to even out the balance of power for you. The spouse with the lesser amount of power can end up giving away far too much.

If you're considering settling your divorce through mediation, talk with a divorce attorney who has experience with the process. People can (and should) use consulting attorneys for the process. Many attorneys have helped clients as they went through the process even if they haven't served as mediators themselves. They can help you determine whether it's the solution for you in the long run.