"I would like to have a peaceful divorce through mediation. Would my spouse have to agree to using mediation before we can use it?"
Yes, mediation is a joint, voluntary negotiation process in which the parties work together, with the help of a neutral third-party (mediator), to arrive at a fair resolution; therefore, it is necessary for both spouses to participate. Both parties have to be engaged in the process, and are responsible for all decisions made because it is the parties who are making decisions together. Parties may not like one another at the time, but need to be willing to work with together to find solutions that will meet the needs of everyone involved.
Not only is participation voluntary, but so are all agreements reached in mediation. Agreements are not imposed by the mediator nor by the parties -- the content of all agreements are determined by the parties. Mediation allows parties to devise their own agreements without doing battle in the adversary arena when the parties want to arrive at a mutually-acceptable solution, which the parties feel is fair and in the best interests of all involved. There are no final agreements until the parties are comfortable and mutually satisfied with the proposed agreements.
John C. Juarez is a professional, full-time mediator with Pamela Britton White Mediation Services.