Navigating the ending of your marriage can be an emotional and difficult process. As you untangle your property and finances from one another and figure out how you will co-parent, you must make decisions that affect the foundation of your post-divorce lives. For many divorcing couples, mediation leaves these important decisions in the hands of the parties, allowing them to move forward with greater satisfaction and confidence. If you are starting to explore your divorce options in the Minneapolis area, here are some tips for getting the most out of the mediation process.
Selecting the Right Mediator
Although the mediator does not influence the outcome—nor do they issue a ruling like a judge—they play a crucial role in helping you and your spouse communicate openly, honestly, and constructively. As you meet with potential mediators, try to find someone who works well with your communication styles. Qualities like empathy, creativity, experience, and trustworthiness are essential in a mediator, so make sure the mediator you select makes you feel heard, valued, and supported.
Think, too, about what you are looking for from the mediator. All mediators are expected to remain neutral and to respect the parties’ self-determination; the mediator should not pressure the parties to agree to any particular term or even to settle at all – the mediator should always remember that this is your case and your life, and so your decision. But there are different ways mediators can honor that obligation. So consider, for example:
- Do you want a mediator who will limit their role to guiding the conversation, helping the two of you identify the questions that need to be answered and find answers on your own. That is facilitative mediation, and the form most Minnesota mediators are trained in.
- Or do you want a mediator who will weigh in with his or her thoughts on how, for example, a court might deal with some of your issues? Sometimes parties find this evaluative approach helpful because they get the benefit of insight from someone who isn’t wrapped up in their battle. That outside perspective can be a reality check.
Discuss with potential mediators the approach you would like them to take – and keep in mind that the principle of self-determination applies to both parties, so you both need to agree on the type of mediation you want.
Maintain an Open Mind
Divorce is rarely a straightforward process. Emotions can run high, and it can be challenging to stay focused on the bigger picture. As you prepare for the mediation process, keep reminding yourself of the importance of listening closely and keeping your mind open to new ideas or understandings. When you get bogged down in disagreements, the mediator will help you work through these issues and encourage you to take a moment or two (or three) to think about what you’ve heard and learned in the mediation session, and how (or if) some of it might show the two of you a solution you hadn’t considered.
Focus on Your Desired Outcome
When a dispute flares during the divorce mediation process, it’s natural to get laser-focused on that one thing that is ticking you off in that moment. . The mediator is there to support you through these difficult conversations, asking questions about how this immediate issue does – or maybe doesn’t – matter in the big picture. The better you understand and remember what is most important to you, the more easily you can avoid letting each point of disagreement derail your discussions. And, that sense of the big picture will help you see when a point of disagreement really is important enough to you that you need to take a stand.
If you are interested in learning more about the divorce mediation process in Minneapolis or St. Paul, call Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.