Let’s face it, the word “divorce” has some pretty negative connotations. Of course, this isn’t true for every couple. Some couples are able to divorce amicably by using a relatively painless mediation process. For other couples, though, the d-word’s negative connotations are more than justified.

Some divorces are bound to be acrimonious. Perhaps you and your spouse are getting a divorce, and the process has already gotten contentious. No matter how much you would love to mediate your divorce privately, it might not work that way for you. If you and your spouse are armoring up for a divorce, you should be forewarned that there are a few situations in which mediation just won’t cut it.

1. The other party is unrealistic

Your spouse may have very different ideas from you about who is right, who is wrong and who is to blame for the divorce. They may also have set-in-stone demands about important things like property division, alimony or child custody arrangements. If this the case, then you will likely need an attorney, not a mediator, to reason with your partner.

2. You need a strong advocate

Some couples have a power imbalance that gives one spouse much more authority over the other. In these situations, it may not be possible for the spouse with less power to negotiate fairly. Having a strong advocate who can fight for your best interests will be crucial to reaching a satisfactory divorce agreement, and a mediator can’t always do this.

3. A speedy divorce is necessary

Divorce is rarely a quick process. It can drag on for months, or even years. The mediation process can be particularly slow, though. It requires many sessions of detailed, face-to-face negotiations. Litigation is not exactly known for being speedy either, but in some divorces it can be much faster than sitting down with a mediator over and over again.

To mediate, or not to mediate?

If your divorce is becoming contentious, you may wish to meet with a divorce attorney. Look for someone who is local to your area and who has experience in both mediation and litigation. An attorney can help you decide whether mediation is an option for you—or whether you should avoid divorce mediation altogether.