Many people contemplating or involved in divorce wonder if their case will need a trial. The short answer for most cases is “no.” You and your soon to be ex can use various mediation options to work through the various issues in your divorce. In fact, cases are required to mediate unless there is an allegation of domestic violence.
You may think a mediation won’t work for you because you already tried working it out and you and your ex couldn’t agree. Try evaluative mediation. In this type of mediation the mediator or mediators will listen to both sides and give an opinion of what they think is likely to happen if the Judge decided your case. This bit of feedback may help move you and your ex out of being stuck.
If you have a complex legal issue or problem you simply can’t come to agreement on, settle the other issues and ask the Court for help on that one or two issues. It’s possible you could submit the disagreement in writing, have a short hearing or trial on just the issues left. You will save yourself a lot of time, stress, and money by attempting to settle your case at every opportunity.
If there is domestic violence and/or an Order for Protection in your case, you may still be able to mediate, even though you are not required to. The first priority is safety. If you have an attorney you are comfortable with, ask them if your case can be mediated without having the parties in the same place. Many mediators have separate rooms available where you can engage with the mediator who goes back and forth between rooms to help the parties come to agreements. The rule of thumb is: if you don’t feel safe, don’t do it. In cases of Domestic Violence, in person mediation may not be right for your case.