One of the most common ways people choose to pursue a divorce is through mediation or collaborative divorce. In this scenario, the married parties choose a mediator—a neutral third party who will attempt to help resolve any issues you may be having with the divorce. The mediator isn’t a judge; they work solely to get both parties closer to an agreement.
In most cases, mediation is something that couples who want to divorce should consider. Decisions are reached and agreed to mutually—this usually means the divorce goes smoothly, costs less, and leaves less acrimony.
There are, however, circumstances in which careful consideration should be taken before entering mediation. For those in abusive or violent marriages, it can occasionally be traumatic and counterproductive. In such cases, it’s preferable to allow a lawyer to do the negotiating. Mediation works best when both parties are open and willing to compromise. With this attitude, even the most awkward and stubborn issues can be resolved satisfactorily.
The first step is usually to talk with your mediator about the issues you are struggling with in your divorce, and to provide them with relevant information and details. This may happen at the same time and in the same place as the other party, or it may happen separately, depending on what you arrange. You won’t be forced into an uncomfortable situation.
If you have an attorney, they can join mediation with you, if you wish. In most cases, attorneys are not required to be present, as this allows you and your spouse to do more of the talking and decision making. It also reduces the cost of the process. If your spouse insists on bringing their attorney, you should also bring yours. It’s often easier to negotiate and agree on smaller issues to start with. This helps the parties maintain confidence in each other as larger issues approach the table.
In order for mediation to go smoothly, do your best to make it clear and easy to understand what you want. You should also try hard to understand exactly what your spouse wants. You don’t need to agree with it—just be sure to understand them. Once both parties are clear about what the other wants, you are much closer to resolving any remaining issues.
The other thing you need to do is be willing to make compromises. If you and your spouse simply sit down, set out what you want, draw red lines around it, and refuse to budge, the mediation will be drawn out and end in failure. You can have red lines, but be aware that they may kill the mediation and you may lose what you wanted in court anyway.
To discuss your legal needs with an attorney, call our office directly at (951) 749-5863 for a free phone consultation.