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What Should You Not Say In Ohio Divorce Mediation?

By Jim Robenalt

A marriage on the brink of ending is often a storm brewing on the horizon. The spouses and their children face stressful days ahead of them.

And with emotions high, it can impair one’s judgment, usually resulting in the parties’ failure to make sound decisions.

It is easy to get consumed with hostile feelings toward the other party. And in the heat of the moment, one could utter things that, in better judgment, should not have been saying.

Saying cruel or nasty things may not be the best recourse if the goal is to have an amicable divorce settlement.

So to win the other party’s cooperation, one needs to be careful with the words.

Are you and your spouse undergoing Ohio divorce mediation?

Here are the things you should not say.

1. Insisting on Confidentiality

One of the common pitfalls that divorce lawyers make is insisting on keeping information from the other party. After all, information is power. The more you know over what the other side knows, the more power you wield.

Unfortunately, this belief is not going to help in Ohio divorce mediation.If this continues, it could lead to the two parties shying away from exchanging information. 

Did you know withholding information during Ohio divorce mediation can most likely lead to litigation? So if you are trying to reach an amicable settlement, it makes little to no sense to keep everything confidential and not share information with the other party.

Withholding Information Is Counterproductive

Surprising the other party and the divorce mediator is rarely beneficial in these proceedings. More so if you are withholding information in complex mediations. It can leave the other party feeling suspicious or betrayed.

An exception is when you have information that will make your position seem worse than what the other party assumes or knows.

2. Insults Will Never Yield Positive Results

Whether you are doing it on purpose or just inadvertently blurting it out there, insults will not do both of you any good. So how do insults go about in these Ohio divorce mediation proceedings?

One party may think it is important that the other side needs to hear “the truth.”

Insults may be inadvertent. One party believes that insulting the other will cause the latter to comply or compromise.

Insults are likely to be purposeful attacks. Sometimes, this may come as intimidation or creating a hostile environment for the opposing side.  Some litigators think this strategy may work in mediation, basing it on their experience in contested cases.

On the other hand, there are unintentional attacks in the form of dismissive statements or unexamined truisms. But the most common of them is “speaking the truth.” 

Parties in mediation sometimes need to shift the blame, telling the other to check their behavior. As this happens, inflammatory words are often thrown.

Why Insults Have No Place In Ohio Divorce Mediation Proceedings?

When one feels attacked, the typical reaction is to strike back or withdraw from participating in the proceedings. As a result, it becomes much harder to reach an amicable settlement for the parties.

The best approach is to monitor your language carefully. When conveying your message, consider the assumptions built into your words and how the other party will receive them.

Avoid making statements that will likely leave the other side feeling insulted. Try to look at divorce mediation as a step forward, leading to an amicable settlement. Throwing insults, allocating blame, and other purposeful attacks will only do the opposite.

3. Avoid Making Arguments That Are Persuasive Against the Opposing Side

Sometimes, the parties make arguments against the other party. 

This approach is an ineffective strategy. After all, the goal in divorce mediation is not to push your sole agenda and win. Instead, it would help if you won the other party’s cooperation to work together toward a fair and rational settlement. Instead, try to be persuasive, as if you are convincing a neutral party when you are making your arguments.

When you argue against a side, you can expect to be met with an opposing view. This retaliation is an anticipated response from someone with a fundamentally different outlook. In addition, when you argue, present supporting evidence. Otherwise, your position will look weak and ineffective.

There are risks when you fail to make a convincing argument.

For one, it will lead to the other party hardening its position.

So what is the best approach?

Speak as if you are trying to convince the divorce mediator to be on your side. Also, avoid being hostile to the other party because the divorce mediator can sense this and become sympathetic to the latter’s position.

4. Avoid Using Divisive Language

Using the word “they” to refer to the other party sends a message of antipathy and alienation. This usage gives the impression that you are taking a position that aligns differently with your shared interests. As a result, achieving the fair and rational compromise you hope to accomplish from divorce mediation may be impossible.

So what is the best approach? Use language that will appeal to both of your interests. 

Remember that any inflammatory statement from you will push the other side away. You will lose whatever goodwill you have already invested in the divorce mediation.

5. Make Sufficient Preparations for the Divorce Mediation

It would be best if you were sufficiently prepared to avoid losing your position. First, you give the impression that you have a flawed position. As a result, the divorce mediation will tend to side with the other party.

Second, you will appear as a weak adversary to the opposing side. This failure will give them confidence and become formidable; they will also likely run down your position and make your views seem unimportant.

Third, had you structured your views for an effective argumentation, you would have encountered ideas that allow you to push forward a better deal for yourself. Make sufficient preparations to avoid leaving yourself in a worse position.

To avoid this, take the time to prepare a strong, well-prepared statement. Make it concise and persuasive. But avoid making conclusory declarations. Remember to use the proceedings to speak in depth to the other party and the divorce mediator.

The objective is not to cause a further divide. Instead, make the opposing side feel hopeful about pursuing a fair compromise and abandon all thoughts about pursuing contested litigation.

The opening statement is an excellent opportunity to present your side and carefully explain that a fair compromise is the best way to go about things. In your opening statement, present your goals best to appeal to the other side.

6. Avoid Focusing on Monetary Negotiations to the Exclusion of Other Matters

Solely focusing on the dollar figure can lead to missed opportunities in closing a better compromise. After all, other essential matters are centered on something other than money. It would help if you considered that there are ways to achieve both your individual and shared goals without solely focusing on a monetary settlement.

7. When Engaging in Monetary Negotiations, Avoid Starting with Too High or Too Low Amounts

You will encounter a situation where you will wonder what the right amount to get the best possible deal from divorce mediation is. Usually, a party will start too high or too low with their offers, fearing they will end up with a worse deal.

However, starting the negotiation with an extreme position is equivalent to a refusal to negotiate. You impose a position on the opposing party, forcing them to make a significant concession. 

So what is the best approach?

While there is no ideal figure at which to start a monetary negotiation, avoid extreme amounts. This may be perceived as an aggressive or hostile tactic, which will be met with an equally aggressive or hostile stance from the other side.

8. Fighting Over Disagreements Will Lead to Nowhere

Of course, it is an instinct for one party to assert that they are right.

But this assertion will serve no other purpose than to further the divide between the parties.

The fighting comes again when you are just a few steps away from closing in on a fair and reasonable deal.

This is the best approach to avoid further conflict.

Avoid becoming so centered on winning every battle. 

Take the L once in a while.

You may lose the battle, but keep in mind to win the war. Not just for you but also the other side.

After all, their victory is also your victory.

So before arguing over your differences, be sure that any conflict of views will not affect any progress you have made in coming to a deal.

9. Never Push to Win Your Divorce Case

As it is adversarial, most couples hope to beat their spouse in litigation and get the last laugh.

But that should be different in divorce mediation. The proceedings are designed to devise a fair and rational compromise between the parties. Because divorcing spouses rarely get everything they want, both parties should understand the concept of give and take.

Nobody wins them all. One spouse might get custody of the kids but does not receive alimony. To push for a win is pointless. Instead, focus on the consequences of full-blown litigation. Unlike divorce mediation, both parties do not have any control over the court proceedings.

Like most contested court actions, you will likely spend thousands of dollars. And after the dust has settled, still nobody wins. Cooperate and compromise. That way, both you and your spouse will win.

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