Even in the best of circumstances, divorce can be a stressful and emotionally draining time in one’s life. Mediation, however, can save a couple the additional stress and cost of having to go to court to resolve their disputes. Instead, both parties can work together in mediation to reach an agreement that works for everyone involved.
If done correctly, divorce mediation can be an effective solution that saves time, money, and emotional energy. To ensure a successful mediation experience, here are 5 tips you should keep in mind as you prepare for the process:
#1. Come Prepared
Preparing ahead of time for mediation will help your mediation sessions go smoothly. Before attending mediation, be sure to collect and organize all necessary documents, especially those that will provide an accurate understanding of your family’s current finances, including:
- Monthly bills
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
- Detailed records of your incomes
Having all this information ready will help you have an idea of what a fair settlement might be before the process begins. It will also save you from having to go back and find these figures during the session. Finally, it will help ensure that any agreements reached are based on facts rather than projections or guesses that could result in costly mistakes.
#2. Know What Is Most Important to You
It is essential to have a clear understanding of your goals and expectations. Before meditation, you and your attorney should discuss what your hopes are for mediation and an experienced divorce attorney should be able to give you a sense of what you should be able to reasonably expect and how to approach the negotiations.
Knowing what is most important to you will help inform both how you approach negotiations and when it's time to compromise. Take some time beforehand to reflect on your overall goals, identify values that are the most important to you in these negotiations, and think through any areas where interest-based negotiation might be beneficial. This will help ensure that each party goes into the mediation with clear expectations and a desired outcome in mind.
With this knowledge at hand, both parties can discuss their options while looking for creative, win-win solutions during their divorce mediation, and hopefully leave the table with confidence that their decisions were the right ones for both of them to move forward with their post-divorce lives.
#3. Be Open-Minded
Understandably, couples may have vastly different goals and values entering into divorce mediation, so being able to communicate how important each point is can help move resolutions along while minimizing stress and turmoil throughout the entire process. However, this requires that both parties remain open-minded.
Mediation is designed to be collaborative, which means that it’s extremely important to try and see things from the other person's perspective. This can be challenging for a couple whose marriage may have been marked by ongoing conflict but making a concerted effort to do so will make it much more likely that a satisfactory agreement will be reached. Only by listening to each other will you be able to understand each other’s needs and come up with a workable resolution.
#4. Take Breaks if Necessary
Divorce mediation can be an emotional process. Rather than let those emotions build up and possibly burst out during negotiations, step away when you feel the need. During difficult conversations or moments of tension, it can be helpful to take a break so each party can have time away from the table to reflect on their feelings and thoughts before continuing the session again.
Especially if the conversation feels like it’s getting too heated and that overwrought emotions may be impeding progress, taking some time away can help you both come together again with a more productive mindset.
#5. Understand Your Rights and Options
Unfortunately, mediation is an unworkable option for some couples. If you have attempted to go through mediation in good faith, but you feel that you are not being heard or that negotiations are not progressing despite your best efforts, it may be time to consider other legal avenues such as arbitration or litigation. It’s important to consult a seasoned divorced attorney who can advise you on your legal options.
At Crossman & McNamee, LLC, our experienced divorce attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients resolve their divorces with as little stress as possible. We know how difficult and overwhelming divorce can be, and we will help guide you through the process and protect your interests every step of the way.
If you are considering mediation or are concerned that mediation isn’t working, reach out to us online or call us at (937) 468-3796 to schedule a consultation.