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  • Does Divorce Mediation Work?


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    Close to 50% of first marriages[1]
    and 60% of second marriages will end in divorce.

    Just in 2009:
    1 in 100 marriages ended.
    [divorce per thousand by region][2]
    Northeast: Men: 7.2 Women:7.5
    Midwest: Men:9.1 Women:9.2
    South:Men: 10.2 Women: 11.1
    West: Men: 9.2 Women: 9.8
    Average: Men: 9.2 Women: 9.7

    Based on income: [2]
    [divorce rate per thousand 2009]
    Public assistance: Men:14.7 Women:23.3
    <$25,000: Men:17.2 Women:27.2
    $25,000-$49,000: Men: 23.9 Women:29.9
    $50,000-$74,999: Men:23 Women:19.4
    >$75,000:Men: 32.6 Women:23.4

    With nearly 1/10 white marriages ending in 2009:
    Based on race:[2]
    [divorce per thousand by race]
    White: Men:77.4 Women:76.1
    Black: Men: 12.5 Women: 13.1
    American Indian: Men: .9 Women: .8
    Asian: Men:2.6 Women: 3.8

    In total there’s a divorce in America every 13 seconds.[6]
    Many of those divorces will be settled with mediation.

    Core Mediation Issues:[3]
    1.) Distribution of property
    2.) Child Custody and Parenting Time
    3.) Child Support/Maintenance
    4.) Retirement
    5.) Taxes

    So does mediation work?

    Mediation produces agreement in 50-80% of cases.[4]

    Including those that are :
    Court referred
    Privately placed
    Involving domestic abuse
    Involving Intense marital conflict

    Profile: Mediators

    Traits of good mediators:
    Humor, optimism, empathy, sympathy, friendliness.
    Mediators can’t be robots.
    Quickly grasp complex issues, shift tactics rapidly.
    This should be about your problem, not a mediator with a problem understanding you.
    Prepared, controls own feelings, neutral, hard worker.
    Imagine coming to an agreement with three warring parties.


    Bachelors in psychology, social work, or law
    J.D’s and extra courses in child psychology
    State, Local, County Court, continuing education, and ACR (Association for Conflict Resolution) training.

    It’s a lot cheaper than litigation:
    Mediation: $300 hour for mediation time[5]
    $1800-$3800 document preparation
    Total: $2,000-$5000
    Litigation: $300-$350/hr each
    Total: Avg. $20,000 per person

    It takes a lot less time:
    Mediation: Average 3-6 months[5]
    Litigation: Average 2 years

    It leads to better child support agreements:
    Mediation: 80% voluntary compliance with child support[5]
    Litigation: 40% voluntary compliance with child support

    It’s confidential:[5]
    Mediation: Financial info, discussions and decisions confidential.
    Litigation: Becomes part of the public record. Hearings open to public.

    Note: And it’s less adversarial.

    But if it doesn’t work you have to start from scratch.
    It’s up to you, but for many it’s worth a shot.

    Mediation checklist

    Mediation is for you if:

    Decision for divorce is mutual
    You have no desire to revive marriage
    You would like to stay on decent terms with spouse
    You both understand your financial situation
    Your spouse hasn’t lied to you about anything important
    You can disagree with your spouse in a civil way
    You are not easily intimidated by your spouse
    Physical violence is not an issue in your relationship