Divorce is almost always a messy thing. After all, it involves two people who once shared an intense emotional connection, severing that tie. Frequently, one of the two parties does not want the marriage to end, and love and anger are all mixed up in the process. Therefore, it is no surprise that couples are not always able to resolve things through mediation and that many divorce cases end up in court.

The most basic explanation for why divorce mediation fails is that the two parties simply can not come to an agreement because the things they want are so entirely opposed.

When One Party Doesn’t Want the Marriage to End

One common reason for mediation to fail is that one of the parties does not want the marriage to end. They can’t accept that it is over and feel that the longer they can postpone the end, the more likely they are to be able to avoid it. They think that with more time, their partner will come to their senses and realize they shouldn’t actually get divorced.

While this probably does happen on a rare occasion, the vast majority of the time, when one party files for divorce, they end up going ahead with it. The thing that many people don’t realize is that if your spouse files for divorce, the marriage has likely been over for them for a long time. Most of the time, people are not impulsive enough to go directly from the realization that they are no longer happy in their marriage to filing for divorce.

On the contrary, there are usually dozens of steps in between. They usually try to save their relationship in many ways. They may try to pull out of a rut by proposing that they take a trip or try to spice things up in the bedroom. Often an unhappy spouse will suggest counseling. Finally, after exhausting all of their ideas with no effect, they will tell their spouse that they want a divorce.

For the other party, though, the request for a divorce often comes as a complete shock. They may either think that they are a happy couple or that they are going through a bit of a rough patch, but believe that they will come through it with time. The idea of divorce is new to them and not something that they can easily accept. They will fight the divorce until the bitter end, not realizing that it is most likely a lost cause.

When One Party Is Too Angry

In other cases, both parties have accepted that it is the end, but one spouse is so angry at the other that they just want to make sure they suffer as much as possible. They may not even care that going to court will likely hurt themselves even more as well, through higher costs and more pain brought on by a continued fight. All they will care about is inflicting as much pain upon their partner as possible.

The angered partner may be that way because they didn’t want to get divorced. It could also be because of an offense by their partner that precipitated the divorce. In other cases, the vengeful behavior is in line with the spouse’s actions throughout the marriage, which led to the request for divorce in the first place. Abusive partners who feel their victims slipping away are likely to use their divorce as one last abuse against their partner.

When Both Parties Simply Can’t Agree

In other cases where mediation fails, it is as simple as the two parties not being able to reach an agreement on some aspect of the divorce. Unfortunately, one of the points that spouses often have difficulty agreeing about is custody of the children. Whether it is a battle for who gets primary custody or how much time the secondary parent gets the kids, it can be difficult for many parents to come to an agreement.

When custody battles go to court, it is particularly disheartening because the children are the ones that suffer the most in these situations. As divorce statistics show, children often face a difficult time even when their parent’s divorce was not particularly contentious. When children are involved, it is always best to put every last bit of effort into resolving things through mediation. The children will be far better off in the end, whatever the outcome.

There are other things that divorcing spouses are unable to agree about during mediation as well that require the case go to court. When there is a particular item that has significance for both spouses and is deemed irreplaceable to both, they are likely not to be able to resolve the divorce in mediation.

Bottom Line

Many factors can require a divorce to go to trial in order for a settlement to be reached. However, fortunately, most cases are settled out of court. Mediation is a very helpful tool that can get the job done in most cases, but like most everything in life, it is not 100% foolproof.