If you are contemplating divorce, it is very likely that you have heard the term “mediation” and have wondered if this may be a good option for your situation.
It is important to understand what mediation is and is not, and what the role of the mediator is. For couples that have a goal of reaching an amicable settlement, this may be a good option. Mediation should not be confused with couples’ therapy, as parties entering the mediation process have the goal of dissolving the marriage, not repairing the marriage, and have come to terms with that.
Mediation can be less expensive and faster than divorce litigation and allows the parties to retain control over their outcome. Keep in mind that not all mediations are successful. If your attempt at mediation is not a success, you will then enter into divorce litigation, so make sure that you put forth your best efforts throughout the process.
It is possible that after mediation, you and your spouse will still have the need for a working relationship, whether it be raising children, selling a house, or working in an ongoing business venture. Think of mediation as a step towards the future relationship you and your soon to be former spouse can share.
A few tips for a successful mediation include the following: intentional communication is key; do your best to refrain from using this time to air your grievances with the other party; while emotions can run high during a divorce try to keep them in check; disclose all of your assets and debts to the mediator; do not withhold any financial information from the mediator; when you express yourself, make sure you explain your perspective and point of view clearly so you can be fully understood.
Now that you have a grasp of what mediation may entail, it is important to understand the role of the mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who assists the divorcing spouses throughout the settlement negotiation or mediation process. The mediator ensures a respectful discourse and keeps the parties on track with their communications and end goals. The mediator’s role is not to work on the relationship of the spouses as a married couple, but rather, as a divorcing couple, to move towards the future. The mediator does not represent either party, and does not “side” with either party, but rather with the negotiation process and procedures. The mediator may need to get the parties back on track at times, guide the parties, help the parties to fully express their positions, and to maintain a sense of decorum throughout the process.
Sometimes mediation takes one session, but oftentimes, the parties meet with the mediator on multiple occasions. It is ok to take a break during a session to regroup or recharge, or for a session to end if the parties have exhausted their abilities to resolve anything further in the current session or if the mediator feels the parties are in need of a break from the session and time to refocus for the next one.
If you and your spouse are interested in mediation, please contact us – we can help.