If you and your spouse have decided to part ways, you may have already found out that many experts are recommending mediation before litigation.
While mediation isn’t exactly new, it’s definitely less well-known than the traditional method of divorce, where opposing spouses square off with their attorneys at their sides and argue over every last piece of china and silver. Instead, mediation aims to help couples part ways as amicably as possible — without the financial and emotional upset of a bitterly-fought divorce.
If you and your spouse are willing to give mediation a try, this is how you start:
1. Make sure you are both willing to participate.
Mediation won’t get far and will be a waste of time, effort and money if either you or your spouse are unwilling to negotiate openly and fairly with the other. You have to be willing to set aside any notion of “punishing” the other party for his or her mistakes in the marriage or for leaving and work for an agreement that lets you both move on.
2. Find a mediator you are comfortable using.
You want to hire someone who is trained in family mediation, not just someone who has jumped on the collaborative divorce bandwagon. Look for someone who makes both you and your spouse comfortable and can help you talk through the issues you have. If you have complicated property issues or a child custody issue to settle, make sure that the mediator you choose has experience in those areas.
3. Make a list of your goals.
When you go into mediation, you have to know what you want if you expect to be satisfied with the end results. You also have to be realistic. If you expect your life to remain exactly as it is — only without your spouse in it — you’re bound to be disappointed. Think of the goals you make as similar to the ones you’ve had when you were house-hunting or apartment-shopping: There are “must haves” and “would like to haves” and a lot of negotiable areas in between.
A lawyer can provide more information on the collaborative divorce process and how mediation could help you.
Source: FindLaw, “Divorce Mediation FAQ,” accessed July 13, 2017