There are many horror stories about divorce.
Whether it’s the cost of the process or the emotional turmoil it brings to the spouses and their children.
But many people need to see the friendly approaches one can pursue instead. One of them is divorce mediation.
If you don’t have a favorable outlook on divorce, divorce mediation can change it.
What Is Divorce Mediation
This out-of-court process allows the spouses to dissolve their marriage with less cost, time, and stress. It is an excellent approach for couples who agree to settle their issues amicably.
Divorce mediation involves meeting with a neutral third party called a mediator. The latter guides the spouses in negotiating a mutually agreeable settlement on complex issues.
Contrary to misconception, the mediator does not make decisions. Instead, it is the spouses who will decide on their affairs.
Are You Considering Divorce Mediation?
It is wise to prepare for divorce mediation, from writing down your pointers to choosing the right mediator.
Let’s face it. If you want to commit to the process, you might as well come prepared.
So here are some essential tips to help you carry out a smooth and amicable mediation.
1. Write down the items you want to talk about
You want to cover a lot of things during your divorce mediation. Unfortunately, you can never fully trust the frailty of memory. You will likely forget and only remember some things when the session is over.
So it would help if you wrote down the things you want to discuss.
Think of it as making a grocery list before you head to the supermarket. Create a list of issues, concerns, and interests that you want to put forward. It would help if you also detailed what you want from this process.
Talking over sensitive issues can be emotional. So it can be easy to sidetrack a lot of things. And as things get heated, you might give in to your emotions and forget why you are in mediation in the first place.
But with a list, you can focus on the crucial issues. It will make sure you will cover more ground during the session.
2. Be ready to compromise, not win
It cannot be denied that there are bad feelings accompanying a divorce. So it is natural to have a sense of wanting to get even. Or worse, to retaliate for every bad thing the other spouse did during the marriage.
Admittedly, it can also be difficult for some couples to have a sense of fairness when they feel it did not exist during their marriage. Thus, the urge to win in the negotiation. They are seeking compensation for their suffering.
But divorce mediation is not about winning. It’s about finding common ground—a fair and rational compromise that works for you and your spouse, including your children.
Approaching divorce mediation with a mindset of compromise and concession will work to both parties’ benefit.
It would help if you came to each session to find common ground. Commit yourself to reaching equitable solutions with every intention of success.
Understand that you will have to give something up; it’s not all about taking. Be willing to surrender something you feel you deserve to get most of the things necessary to you.
3. Set aside grudges and negotiate rationally
Swirling negative emotions can cycle in and out during divorce mediation. You might remember something your spouse did which brought back unpleasant memories. And sadness and anger set in.
Unfortunately, this will not do both of you any good.
If you come into divorce mediation with grudges, you will only lose. Your spouse will also fail, and so will your children.
Indeed, negative emotions are understandable during the divorce. But if you want to heal and recover from all of these, set them aside. Working out a fair compromise is your first step toward healing and moving forward with your life.
4. Avoid engaging in passionate interactions
Emotions can push you to do counterproductive things. So they are not helpful if you are trying to negotiate for a fair settlement.
Anger, resentment, and revenge have no place in divorce mediation. So does the urge to reunite when the other does not feel the same. These counterproductive emotions will delay the mediation; or, worse, fail.
It would be best if you were rational in divorce mediation. Be willing to set aside your emotions as you engage your spouse toward a reasonable settlement.
5. Prepare a list of all assets
Get a clear picture of all the money and properties you and your spouse jointly own.
These assets can add up if you have been married for several years. So it can get complicated as you are trying to list everything down.
In addition, you also need to be aware of accounts, debts, and other financial holdings that you share with your spouse. These include credit cards, stocks, annuities, insurance policies, and investments.
You must create a list, so everything gets noticed during divorce mediation. Preparing an accurate inventory will help speed things up.
6. Prepare a budget
It would help if you predicted the financial implications when you and your spouse have finally severed your marital ties.
Even during the divorce mediation stage, having a budget for two separate households is crucial. The challenge, however, lies in determining precisely the actual expenses. So be as modest in your approximation as you can.
7. Focus on your priorities
Ask yourself what you want to get from the negotiations.
You may want to get something with a lot of sentimental value. Or you may want to get specific days with your children.
It would help if you decided what is important to you. In the same way, determine what you can let go of. Knowing these things beforehand can help you understand your position in negotiations.
8. Choose the right divorce mediator
Divorce mediation is a skill. And it helps to have years of experience with legal knowledge to back it up.
So if you are ready to walk into divorce mediation, find a mediator you can trust.
An experienced mediator can help settle your disputes and guide you toward an amicable settlement.
Choosing a Divorce Mediator
Not all divorce mediators are the same.
So you need to find one to increase the likelihood of success in your mediation. A successful mediation means less cost and stress.
Here are tips on choosing the right divorce mediator.
1. Get recommendations
You may know people who know or have worked with a divorce mediator before. So it helps to ask around.
Personal recommendations are a great way to learn about a particular mediator and how they handle mediation.
It also helps to ask other professionals to look for a divorce mediator.
2. Look online and read reviews
Can’t get in touch with a divorce mediator from your friends or family?
Go online and look at reviews. This will give you an idea of how one handles their cases. If the mediator has mainly positive reviews, he is a good one to work with.
3. Trust your gut
Divorce is a messy business. It can get overwhelming because there is a lot at stake.
In the same way, divorce mediation is serious business. It would help if you worked out an arrangement you can live with, not one you will regret later.
This is why you need to find a divorce mediator that you can trust. And you need to trust your gut when it comes to choosing one. If you feel the mediator is not trustworthy, skip them and move on to the next.
A trustworthy mediator can guide you through the process to get a fair and rational settlement.
4. Ask about the divorce mediator’s expertise
Did you know there are many classifications of legal mediation?
When choosing a mediator, learn about their practice areas. Ensure they have the proper knowledge and experience to help you through divorce mediation. Make sure you get a mediator dedicated to family and divorce mediation.
Ask them about their expertise. Inquire if they are knowledgeable about handling your unique situation.
5. Consider their professional fees
Divorce mediation is an excellent alternative to full-blown court action because it is less expensive. However, you still need to pay mediation fees.
The amount of mediation fees can vary. Some mediators, especially the more experienced, credentialed ones, charge higher and usually by the hour.
So if you and your spouse take a long time to negotiate, expect the bill to be high.
On the other hand, some mediators charge a flat fee. This is particularly favorable if you must work out many issues during mediation.
6. Look for an excellent communicator
Divorce is a complicated matter. There are a lot of grey areas that laypeople need help understanding. So it helps to have a mediator who will take the time to explain things to you.
7. Look for a neutral mediator
The role of a divorce mediator is to be a neutral third party who will guide the spouses in working out a mutually agreeable settlement.
It would be inappropriate for a divorce mediator to offer their opinion on your issues. Instead, they should only be there to facilitate a fair and rational discussion.
The divorce mediator should also refrain from taking sides. However, they should be quick to point out matters that are not fair or reasonable.
We hope these tips give you and your spouse the best chance of success in divorce mediation.