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5 Tips for Divorce Mediation With An Uncooperative Spouse

Getting your spouse to attend mediation is one thing; getting them to cooperate is another. Luckily, there are ways to successfully negotiate with an uncooperative spouse.

  1. Put the focus on your children

You and your spouse won’t always be on the same page. But if you have children, you both likely want what’s best for them.

Focus on creating the best possible parenting plan for your children. To lessen the likelihood of counterparenting, prepare a parenting plan workable for high-conflict parents. You can even return to mediation if there are issues with following the plan.

Friction between parents can hurt children, even if the parents do not live in the same household. Setting aside your differences can help you both get some of what you want while protecting your children.

2. Calmly remind them of the alternative

The alternative to mediation is court. Knowing that divorce can take years and legal fees can add up to tens of thousands of dollars may inspire your spouse to stop being difficult.

Contrast those difficulties with the benefits of mediation. Mediation is private, whereas in court a number of people will know intimate details of your life. Plus, you can keep the decisions in your hands in mediation rather than placing your faith in a judge.

3. Hire a lawyer as a buffer

An experienced divorce lawyer will know how to zero in on the issues and speak with the other side without personal animus getting in the way. They can try to learn why the spouse is being uncooperative and find solutions so mediation can move forward.

4. Show that you’re not looking for a fight

Be honest about what you’re seeking and be open to hearing your spouse’s ideas. You might find common ground. Reassess your ideal outcome, and understand that you must also cooperate if you want your spouse to be cooperative.

You’ll have a higher chance of success if you de-escalate tension before mediation begins. 

5. Hire the right mediator

Find a mediator who has experience helping spouses in high conflict. They will know what to do when your spouse refuses to cooperate.

They can tailor the mediation sessions to what you need. For example, if things are especially contentious, you may sit in separate rooms while the mediator carries information and proposals back and forth.

Mediation isn’t about getting everything you want…

…it’s about getting what’s fair for both of you and what’s best for your children. The sooner spouses realize this, the sooner they can work together to achieve an agreeable divorce settlement.


Zarira Love

In her three years of researching and writing for Custody X Change, Zarira Love has distilled the topics of child custody and parenting to make vital information accessible to all parents. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from SUNY Purchase College and currently resides in New York City. MORE

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