It is not uncommon for one person to approach the breaking point of a marriage and begin
contemplating the possibility of divorce before his or her spouse entertains such thoughts. Even after
the subject has been raised, one spouse will often be ready to move forward with ending the
relationship, while the other believes the marriage can be saved through counseling or otherwise, and
refuses to even face the possibility of divorce. In fact, although I strongly prefer to meet with both
spouses for an initial consultation, I often have a first meeting with just one party, who tells me that his
or her spouse is still in denial that the relationship is over and will not even discuss the available options.
One of the most frequent questions I get during such meetings is whether pre-suit divorce mediation is
even possible under these circumstances, and whether the only option is to hire a lawyer and begin
contested divorce proceedings. My answer is always the same—yes, mediation is still the very best
option, but it will take some extra effort to convince the reluctant spouse to reach this conclusion,
because mediation cannot succeed unless both parties undertake and participate in this voluntary
The first step in most instances is to help your spouse to understand that the divorce is inevitable,
however it proceeds. Until this critical understanding is reached, even reluctantly, your spouse will not
be able to meaningfully interact in the mediation process. If you have children, it will also be helpful to
discuss why mediation is so much better for them, both now and in the future, because it encourages
positive resolution of conflicts instead of posturing and battling in court, and helps the parties preserve
their parenting relationship rather than destroying it over months or years of hard-fought and costly
litigation. Children should always be the primary focus, and pre-suit mediation with an experienced
mediator allows the parties to focus on the future instead of the past, and come up with a resolution
themselves that is in the best interest of the kids, rather than being told what to do by a judge that only
sees a snapshot of the family’s situation before making decisions that can affect the rest of their lives.
Mediation also allows the parties to preserve most of their marital estate instead of handing over tens
or hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawyers. It goes without saying that most people would prefer to
maintain and preserve their collective financial resources to provide for the children and invest in their
Please explore our website to learn why pre-suit mediation is the best option for most couples facing
divorce, and don’t hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation, even if you have difficulty raising
the topic with your husband or wife at the present time.
Click on our website at www.HealthyFamilyMediation.com for more information. Or call 239.529.3549 to discuss your options.