Common Questions about Mediation Answered

Questions about Mediation

Here are some common scenarios that couples often find themselves in as they consider divorce mediation:

I want a peaceful divorce but I don’t trust that my spouse will be fully forthcoming in disclosing all of his/her financial information. Can divorce mediation still work?

In order for divorce mediation to work successfully, there must generally be a solid level of trust between two spouses. Central to this level of trust is the requirement that each party must voluntary disclose all of their asset, debt and other financial information to their attorney-mediator at the outset of the mediation. If any one party is unwilling to do this, it will undermine the progress of the divorce mediation. If lack of trust is a major obstacle, then consider a collaborative divorce, where each spouse hires an attorney, but both agree to stay out of court.

I would like a peaceful and amicable divorce but I cannot get past the fact that my spouse has been unfaithful to me. Is it okay to feel this way in divorce mediation?

Sometimes a spouse will come to divorce mediation feeling hurt, wounded, betrayed or deceived by their spouse. These feelings are normal and understandable. However, this does not mean that they cannot successfully mediate. The good news is that as they move through the mediation program and emerge from the divorce, these feelings do eventually subside as their focus will begin to shift towards the preservation of their family’s future best interests and away from the events and circumstances that led to the divorce. In fact, they will almost always emerge feeling even stronger, more dignified and self-assured than they ever were before.

I love the idea of mediation but I am afraid that I will not get everything that I deserve under the law. Will this happen in divorce mediation?

Absolutely not. In fact, your rights will be just as protected in divorce mediation, if not more, than they would be in litigation. A neutral mediator does not take sides, but rather is concerned with protecting everyone’s rights and best interests. The mediator will ensure that both spouses have been heard and will point out anything that is unbalanced in the meetings, or that the law would view as unfair, compelling spouses in the end to reach a very even and well-balanced settlement agreement.

I am feeling confused and I don’t know if I am ready yet to take the step of legal separation and/or divorce.

The decision to separate and/or divorce is not to be taken lightly and is likely to be the most important decision you will ever make in your lifetime. Therefore, you should tread with caution and make sure you are in the right place both spiritually and emotionally before this crucial step is taken.

I would like to mediate my divorce but I sense my spouse will not be on board, what should I do?

Almost any separation or divorce matter can be mediated, no matter the circumstances. There are times, however, where a spouse may be initially resistant to the idea, usually because they have already been influenced by well-intentioned family or friends who are uninformed about the divorce laws and how they would apply to that spouse’s marriage. However, once spouses are informed about how divorce mediation works, what they can achieve in the program and how their family can greatly benefit from it for years to come, their usual reaction is that they wished they had heard about the option sooner. Encouraging your spouse to attend a consultation to learn more about all the available options, will go a long way towards opening up their eyes to a much better way to obtain a separation or divorce.

I am currently in litigation and my spouse and I are both not happy about the way our divorce is progressing. Is it too late to try divorce mediation?

It is never too late to mediate. Sadly, many couples have discovered the option of divorce mediation only after already being firmly entrenched for years in the throes of a litigated divorce. Unfortunately, many times it becomes very difficult for them to extricate themselves from this situation. However, it can be done.

How might post-divorce mediation benefit me?

Assuming that spouses obtained a legally binding marital settlement agreement in mediation, there may be times that one ex-spouse may wish to modify portions of the agreement, or perhaps one ex-spouse has violated the terms of the agreement, causing the other to file an action in court for contempt.

Post-divorce mediation can be beneficial in these instances as well since it can allow the parties to resolve their differences amicably without having to resort to the courts for relief. In fact, parties who mediated their divorce settlement have a distinct advantage in these situations since they already succeeded in mediation and they know what it takes to do it again should a dispute arise after the divorce. This is precisely why only a very small percentage of mediated divorces ever end up in court at any point after the divorce becomes finalized.


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Adapted from an article that originally appeared on

Posted by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of – Stellenbosch RSA)