The courts have some test programs running where they refer cases to mediation. Parties are screened for some known red flags – but pretty much – if your case is sent to mediation, you have to attend – at least that first session.*
Some of these cases are rough! We have to undo 2-3 years of damage to their relationship and ability to trust each other, eroded from the litigation process, before we can even begin to have productive discussions about moving forward. And that damage crops up and again and again at every turn and has to be scraped away each time.
These couples are not necessarily “high conflict” couples by personality or psychology or history. It’s the damage that has been done by being in litigation and all of that time operating out of defensiveness and fear, with their normal communication blocked – sometimes at their lawyers’ instruction.
*The mediators donate 90 minutes of time, free, and then, if the parties so choose, they can continue at the mediator’s hourly rate.