If you have an issue or dispute that must be addressed by the family court, in almost all instances you have one or more opportunities, before the family court issues a decision, to reach a resolution with the opposing party, outside of court. When the dispute is submitted to the mediation process, you have something that you lose if the decision is left to the family court judge or referee: veto power.
In mediation, the mediator does not have the authority to impose a resolution or court order upon you against your will. If a compromise must be reached, or a concession must be made, you have the power to assent, or veto, the compromise or concession. In many cases, you are better off to agree to a known concession than to have an unknown concession imposed upon you by the family court.
The point at which it becomes an exercise in futility to resolve the matter outside of court is when it is worth the risk of what the court might impose upon you. That is, when the concessions that you must make in order to reach the out-of-court resolution are so substantial that you are likely to fare better in court. Most disputes can result in a mutually satisfactory settlement in which both parties make reasonable, measured concessions. If it is necessary for you to concede something, it is better to be able to veto the worst scenarios, in favor of something more palatable.