People should be commended for wanting to divorce amicably, if possible. That said, mediation can be detrimental to some. Mediation can be particularly risky if you do not have an attorney advising you.
(1) A mediator does not represent you so he or she is not looking out for what is in your best interest.
(2) You may agree to disadvantageous terms because you lack sufficient information. I have heard of cases where someone agreed to give up a lot because he or she thought “this is what a judge would probably order” when actually most judges probably would have ruled more favorably based upon the facts and law.
(3) Mediation is not recommended if there is domestic violence in the family.
(4) Some people think they are in the process of a mediation when truly the “mediator” is representing and advising their spouse. Yes, this has really happened to intelligent people. This can occur when a couple approaches a lawyer and asks for help with a divorce. The couple may think they are saving funds by using one attorney who will mediate it. But if the attorney is not truly acting as a mediator, he or she can only represent one of the parties. Often what benefits one party is damaging to the other (such as how much alimony is paid and for how long). If one party is represented by an attorney and the other is not, there is a good chance the attorney will draft the settlement agreement in a way that is advantageous to his or her client.