Compared to litigation, mediation is often a much more amicable and productive approach to divorce. However, there are 7 rules for a successful divorce mediation that you should understand and be willing to honor before getting started.
Here at Mediate Don’t Litigate in Denver, I go over these guidelines with clients to ensure that everyone is on the same page before getting started. My goal is to help both sides reach equitable outcomes that allow a smoother transition as they move on in their separate lives.
The 7 Rules for a Successful Divorce Mediation
- Emotions: It’s only natural for both parties to feel a gamut of emotions, from sadness to anger and resentment. Because emotions can get in the way of a resolution through mediation, you may want to find healthier ways to cope such as seeing a therapist or counselor. Remember that this process isn’t about winning, losing or “punishing” your spouse, but about compromising.
- Participation: For a successful divorce mediation outcome, both parties must participate in the conversation. If you’re not comfortable speaking about what you want and need, or there are issues with intimidation in the relationship, mediation may not be the right route. I will do my best to facilitate an open dialogue, but ultimately, you need to fully contribute to each session.
- Respect: This is one of the pillars of divorce mediation. Even if a marriage came to a contentious end, mediation requires both parties to respect each other’s opinions, needs and wants. You’ll need to actively listen and respond instead of react during discussions. Once someone feels like they’re being undermined, they’re often much less willing to compromise on decisions.
- Documents: As in any legal proceeding, you must bring proper documentation in order for any decisions to be made on the division of assets and debts, as well as what expenses may need to be covered by spousal maintenance and/or child support. Seeing numbers in black and white is easier to negotiate versus arbitrary figures that don’t reflect what’s true and what’s real.
- Perspective: During mediation, both sides will have opportunities to make requests and provide suggestions. Some you’ll agree with and others may seem to come out of left field. At that point, take a moment to understand where the other party is coming from. You likely know them well, so put yourself in their shoes and try to (objectively) approach matters from their perspective.
- Brevity: Unlike lawyers in a courtroom, a mediation session is not a forum to pontificate in order to “win” the case. Divorce mediation is a win-win format. Each session is focused, and all issues are settled as quickly as possible. The aim is to come to an agreement that will allow you to part ways without ongoing drama. If you want a fresh start, mediation is your opportunity.
- Boundaries: When you know someone as well as a spouse, it’s so easy to cross boundaries with hurtful remarks. Again, see Rule #1. If necessary, you may need to limit communication outside of mediation. Instead of calling, send an email where you can be more thoughtful. If you prefer separate rooms during a mediation session, those arrangements can be made as well.