Divorce is often difficult, but it doesn’t have to be brutal. You don’t have to resign yourself to a courtroom battle or leave the decisions about your future in the judge’s hands. Those judges will tell you that you and your spouse are best-suited to make the decisions, and will encourage you to try working together to figure out how best to separate your lives.
Mediation – which most judges expect parties to try — allows you and your spouse to negotiate the terms of your divorce. Those discussions are challenging, and mediators are there to help them along. Here are a few simple tips for getting the most out of the divorce mediation process.
Know What to Expect During the Divorce Mediation Process
First, you and your spouse should take some time to understand the basics of the divorce mediation process. Unlike a courtroom proceeding in which the judge listens to both sides and issues a ruling, mediation is much less formal and invites both parties to work together to negotiate a workable solution. The mediator, a neutral third party, will guide you through the discussions and negotiations, but they do not control the outcome. While mediators don’t decide who is right or wrong and don’t give legal advice, they are able to help parties frame the issues; by listening to the parties and asking questions, a mediator can help you think past the immediate sense of conflict to see what your underlying interests are so you can focus on the best way to serve those interests.
Commit to Openness and Honesty
Mediation works best when the parties approach the process with an open mind and a willingness to compromise. You and your spouse may still be on friendly terms, and you may not. Either way, there will probably be hot-button issues for one or both of you, and you’ll need to communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully to figure them out. If you can talk – and listen – through those pain points, you’ll often discover there is more common ground than you expected. The more you can view mediation as an opportunity for you both to lay a solid foundation for your post-divorce lives, the more civil and productive your conversations will be.
Focus on the Big Picture
It’s easy to get caught up in little details during divorce negotiations. Arguing over who will keep your marital home or getting lost in the ins and outs of establishing child custody arrangements can be overwhelming and stressful. Before mediation, before you find yourself wrapped up in something that flared your temper, think through your goals. What is most important to you? What do you think is most important to your spouse? Are there ways to work together to get both of you as close to those goals as possible? Consider writing your goals down, and when things get heated in mediation you can take a break and review them. Keeping the big picture in mind can motivate you to move through difficult and sensitive conversations. Remember, the mediator is also a valuable resource for helping you and your spouse work through any roadblocks.
Focusing on the big picture may also mean you shouldn’t get caught up in an “all or nothing” attitude toward mediation. If you can’t reach agreement on everything, the mediator might be able to help you reach agreement on some things. There are a lot of pieces in a divorce, and sometimes it makes sense to settle some of them so you can narrow the court case. That can save both parties time, energy, and money.
Learn more about the divorce mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.