Mediation can help couples reach a fair and reasonable agreement with less rancor and expense when they end their marriage. But in a limited number of circumstances, mediation may not be helpful in a divorce.

Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral party helps the spouses reach agreement. It is intended to be helpful for both parties and allow spouses to reach their own terms.

But this process requires cooperation. Mediation has little chance of success if a couple has no interest in reaching mutual agreements or either spouse want to win at all costs. Mediation generally cannot override anger.

Mediation also requires time and patience. Spouses must patiently address issues and seek a fair compromise. If they are unwilling to devote time to mediation sessions, this process may not be a realistic option.

Using drugs or alcohol also lower the odds of success because a person may not have   capacity to negotiate in a logical manner. A domestic violence history or a spouse who is afraid to negotiate are other obstacles, especially if there is a restraining order or personal protection order which prevents the spouses from meeting.

There are ways to work within these orders, such as acting through an intermediary. But the anger and fear may be difficult to overcome.

A mental health issue may also hamper mediation. For example, a spouse with a bi-polar disorder who is having a manic episode may have difficulty concentrating.

Disagreements over child custody may be insurmountable. In some cases, a court may order mediation if the parents cannot make any progress on reaching an agreement. When parents refuse to budge, however, even this mediation will be unsuccessful, and the judge will have to decide custody.

A family law attorney can assist you with considering options that will help you seek an equitable decree. They may also represent you and protect your interests at divorce proceedings and negotiations.