As you face the ending of your marriage, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions you and your spouse must make. That’s to be expected even in amicable separations From determining how you will divide your marital assets to figuring out shared parenting to negotiating child support or spousal support, you are confronted with decisions that are often emotional and difficult to navigate.
Mediation offers couples the opportunity to work together under the guidance of a neutral third party to negotiate the terms of their divorce. Mediation may happen after the divorce case is filed – most courts require mediation in most cases – or you might choose to work with a mediator before going to court, crafting an agreement that will be the basis of a joint petition for divorce. Either way, a bit of planning will help make mediation more productive and at least a little less stressful.
Approach the Session With an Open Mind
The success of mediation depends heavily on each participant’s willingness to engage in the process. Even if you and your spouse aren’t on particularly amicable terms, you should be able to communicate with one another openly, honestly, and respectfully. You should go into mediation knowing what’s important to you, but also trying to understand what’s important to your spouse. Be open to the possibility you might learn something that changes your mind – but don’t feel as if you have to roll over. You might not get everything you want out of the final agreement (in fact, you probably won’t since that’s how compromise works) but you shouldn’t feel pressured into an agreement you see as fundamentally unfair or flawed.
Organize and Bring Any Relevant Materials
There are several components to the divorce process. Before your initial mediation session, take some time to gather and organize all necessary documents, including financial statements, bank records, schedules, and other materials to lend specificity to your conversations and negotiations. Parties can get frustrated with each other and with the process when they don’t have the information they need to make a decision.
If you have a lawyer, they will help identify the information and documents you’ll need. If you aren’t represented you can download the stipulated divorce petition from the Minnesota Judicial Branch (the joint petition for a divorce with children can be found here). By reading through that form, you’ll see the issues that typically need to be addressed in a divorce and be better able to collect the information you need for each issue.
Prepare Questions for the Mediator
It’s important to recognize that the mediator serves as a facilitator, not a judge. Their role isn’t to tell you what to do, but to support you throughout the mediation process, helping you and your spouse to communicate productively and work toward a resolution that makes sense for your family. Before your initial meeting, jot down any questions you may have about the process. The mediator can answer these questions, address your concerns, and provide you with the information and clarification you need to proceed with confidence.
Call Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to learn more about the divorce mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul.