If divorce mediation were sold like a product in a commercial, the product benefits would claim to calm even the angriest spouses. Fortunately, this "product" actually delivers upon its intended benefits in most divorce cases. That's why most counties require mediation before you ever step into court. And, the majority of divorce cases end up settled by mediation with the help of an attorney on your side. As a result, this process has an extremely high rate of success.
Despite benefits such as better post-divorce relationships with your spouse, with your children, and, yes, with your money, you might feel too angry to sit across from your spouse. You might dwell on what led up to your divorce and think about all of the arguments. You cannot imagine having a pleasant, or even a civil, conversation after everything you went through.
Don't worry. With the help of your attorney, here are some tips that will get you and your spouse to calm your emotions and start the mediation process.
1. Communicate with your spouse, even if it's simply in a business-like manner.
Think of your marriage like a storm that's passed. Now, it's just business. You need to communicate with your spouse about the "business" of your divorce. It's not a perfect world, so we don't expect miracles to happen if your spouse is notoriously uncommunicative or angry. Try different methods. If in-person or phone doesn't work, try email. If your spouse ignores you, communicate through your attorneys. Find a way to communicate that works for both of you.
2. Discuss how mediation will benefit both you and your spouse. Even if you're communicating with your spouse, he or she may remain skeptical about mediation and think a court battle remains the best option. With the help and guidance of your attorney, talk about benefits that matter to both of you. For example:
- Mediation will reduce the overall costs of the divorce. A court battle will cost much more money.
- You and your spouse will have more control over the agreement and solution. Otherwise, a court will decide your future, and that decision places both of your futures in the hands of people other than you.
- A third party mediator will facilitate. Even if you're liable to snap and yell at each other, a third party will have the training and expertise to help you and your spouse communicate even about the most contentious issues. You won't be communicating alone or just through your attorneys, and the mediator will serve as a breath of fresh air.
- Mediation reduces your kids' stress. Think of your kids. Do they want to hear about you angrily battling in court? Or solving your problems amicably...like adults?
3. Treat mediation like a business negotiation.
Once you prepare for mediation and eventually sit across from your spouse, cultivate a mindset that mediation is a business negotiation. It's not an argument or even a heated discussion. Your marriage is over. It's business now. That's why it's essential to have an attorney who keeps you focused, business-like, and detail-oriented throughout the entire process.
Like a negotiation, your attorney will help you enter the mediation knowing your objectives, what you're willing to give up, and various scenarios of what might happen. Strategize with your attorney, and then work with your spouse, any other attorneys, and your mediator to create an amicable solution that works best for everyone.
Despite mediation usually succeeding more amicably than a court battle, it's still a tricky process in which you need to prepare, strategize, and plan out what you want. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate through the mediation process.
If you have questions about mediation or any part of your divorce process, call us today for a consultation.