For some couples, negotiating directly with each other, even with the help of a mediator, is not possible. That could be because of a) issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse, b) a significant imbalance of perceived personal power between the spouses – or intense emotional reactions – that make one spouse uncomfortable in a negotiation without his or her own personal representative, or c) because a spouse is simply unwilling to mediate.

Before turning to litigation, however, these couples should explore Collaborative Practice, or a hybrid model, such Integrative Mediation or the mediator bringing the parties’ attorneys into the room, (see types of mediation) which could still help them to honor shared goals and stay out of court.