Is it true that only people who get along reasonably well should use divorce mediation?
No, it is not true. People who come to mediation with a hostile and angry relationship actually gain in mediation much more financially and relationship-wise compared to people who start out in a cooperative and friendly frame of mind. Litigation could cost angry parties $10-15,000 or more each, depending on how much money they have and the complexity of their issues. "Amicable" parties, in contrast, might pay $3-5,000 each in litigation costs, so hostile parties save more by using mediation.
Moreover, Mediation tends to improve the relationship of high-conflict parties, which is critically important if they need to maintain a cooperative relationship (at work or in a family) after the mediation. Friendly parties already are cooperating, so mediation does not make as much of a difference for them.
See also a video on this subject by Dr Thomson.
Is it true that mediation is not appropriate when there is a power imbalance between the Parties?
It depends on the type of power imbalance. An imbalance of power that stems from domestic violence or a threat of violence and fear makes a case unsuitable for mediation. Also, if a person is cognitively disabled so he or she cannot understand the issues and the decisions, they too would not be suited to mediation. However, most types of power imbalance between parties can be managed quite well by an experienced mediator. In fact, the party who feels less secure at the beginning of the process often emerges empowered by the mediation experience.
A relatively common type of power imbalance is imbalance of knowledge and understanding. For example, knowlwedge of the finances. This is corrected by the complete disclosure of the Parties' finances and open explanation of all that needs to be understood. Decisions cannot be made in mediation unless both parties understand the decisions and agree to them. Sometimes a party will employ a "consulting attorney" or a financial advisor in the background of mediation, to advise the client who needs such additional support.
Other vulnerabilities, such as being out of the work-market for years get corrected in divorce mediation through the plan couples make for gradual workplace integration of the stay-at-home party. The party who is less verbal and expressive in mediation is given the time and attention, so his or her voice is heard and concerns addressed, and so forth.
If you are uncertain whether your case is suitable for mediation,
email Dr Thomson
for a complimentary consultation about mediating your issues.