Understanding the Limits: Instances When Divorce Mediation Might Not Be Advisable in Arizona

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Divorce, which is often accompanied by intense emotions and challenges, has become a part of many lives in Arizona. In 2021, the state’s divorce rate was 2.7 per 1,000 marriages, placing it in the category of states with high divorce rates.

While everyone praises mediation as a way to navigate the complexities of divorce, it might not always be the best option. Mediation aims to resolve the issues between the parties and create a fair resolution. In certain situations, one spouse might have unequal bargaining power, potentially resulting in an unfair outcome.

Read on to learn if your case falls under this exception. An experienced divorce attorney from The Law Office of Cosmas Onyia can help you determine better options for your case.

High Levels of Conflict

Divorce mediation may not be the best option when the spouses are in extreme conflict. Mediation requires spouses to communicate effectively and work on their issues. High levels of conflict hinder productive communication and make it difficult to reach any solution.

Power Imbalances

If your relationship has a significant power imbalance, divorce mediation can lead to an unfavorable outcome.

An imbalance of power arises when one spouse manipulates or exerts dominance to control the decision-making process. This often stems from financial superiority or a higher status. For example, if you take care of your home and children but earn less than your spouse, your marriage may have a power imbalance.

During mediation, your partner may use this power to make you feel that your contribution to the marriage was less valued. As a result, it could affect your bargaining power and lead to an unfair settlement.

Cases Involving Abuse

When there’s a history of domestic violence in the marriage, it can impede a fair mediation process.

During mediation, the party who suffered abuse might struggle to communicate freely due to fear, trauma, or intimidation. Thus, they might not be in a position to negotiate for their rights effectively and could agree to unjust terms.

The Advocates for Human Rights argue that mediation is not suitable for domestic violence cases because: 

  • It assumes both parties have equal bargaining power.
  • It focuses on future behaviors and undermines the accountability of the abuser.
  • Spouses are less likely to reach an agreement.

Complex Financial Matters

In cases where there are extensive assets and the spouses have trust issues, divorce mediation might not be advisable.

Mediation requires spouses to discuss their finances openly and divide their assets fairly. However, intricate financial matters and a lack of transparency between the parties can make negotiation overwhelming and unsuccessful. A more detailed legal process might be more appropriate in such cases.

Mental Health Concerns

Divorce mediation might not be a good choice if you’re struggling with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. When you have anxiety problems, it can be challenging to articulate your needs and engage in a constructive discussion.

Substance Abuse Issues

Mediation may not resolve your issues if you or your spouse have a history of substance abuse.

Substance abuse may affect decision-making and cooperation, making it difficult to rely on any promises from your partner due to their altered state of mind. Furthermore, their erratic behavior makes it hard to have meaningful interactions.

The mediation process requires trust and cooperation to reach a fair agreement.


When your case requires immediate attention, mediation might not be a viable option because it’s a time-consuming process. Sometimes there might be irreparable damage if you don’t take the necessary actions on time.

For example, if you’re concerned about your child’s safety because your spouse was involved in unlawful activities, seeking an emergency custody order might be appropriate.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

If any of the above exceptions apply to your case, consider hiring an experienced divorce mediation attorney in Phoenix. They can determine which dispute resolution method is best for your case.

Some other methods are:

  • Collaborative divorce
  • Arbitration
  • Litigation

For instance, collaborative divorce can be better than mediation if you have mental health issues or your relationship has power imbalances.

As both parties work with their attorneys to reach an agreement, their attorneys can ensure that these factors do not influence the negotiation process.


While divorce mediation is a valuable tool for resolving disputes amicably, it might not be the best fit for every situation. By understanding its limitations, you can make an informed decision to safeguard your rights and future well-being.

Make sure you understand all your options before proceeding with your divorce. Contact an experienced divorce attorney from The Law Office of Cosmas Onyia to learn about your options.