Divorcing couples often turn to mediation when they want to end their marriages with a minimum of delay, expense and hostility. By giving divorcing spouses the ability to take control and negotiate their own agreements outside of court, mediation has the potential to provide more satisfying divorce outcomes and reduce unnecessary conflict. If you are considering a mediated divorce, consider these tips to help make the most of your mediation sessions.
Consider your goals
By making some preparations beforehand, you can help the mediation process run more smoothly and efficiently. One way to prepare is by spending some time thinking about what your goals and priorities are for your divorce settlement. Which issues do you feel most strongly about and which are you most willing to compromise on? Identifying and prioritizing your objectives will be one part of the process that you will go through with the mediator, and giving some thought to the matter in advance can help you hit the ground running.
Another way you can make the most of divorce mediation is to gather up any documentation ahead of time that may be relevant to the proceedings, such as your tax returns, retirement account statements, mortgage records and other financial documents. You can even compile all of your assets, debts, payments and other financial data into a spreadsheet ahead of time for easy reference, although you should be prepared with documentation to back up the numbers you provide.
Be ready to listen
Communication is essential to the mediation process, so it is important that you come prepared not only to talk about what is important to you, but also to listen when it is your spouse’s turn to speak.
Sometimes, especially when you disagree with what is being said, it can be difficult to listen patiently without interrupting or arguing. Keep in mind that it is normal to experience some uncomfortable emotions during divorce mediation, such as frustration, defensiveness and anger. Do your best to remain calm and listen carefully to what is being said, even if you disagree, in order to help the process work as effectively as possible. Remember that the mediator will not take sides, and that you will have your turn to speak in due time.
Work with a lawyer
Divorce mediation takes place outside of court, but that does not mean it is any less important to have a skilled divorce attorney in your corner. A divorce lawyer with experience in mediation and alternative dispute resolution can work with you throughout the mediation process to advise you of your rights and make sure you thoroughly understand all of the options that are available to you. In addition to providing valuable guidance and insight throughout the mediation process, your attorney can help you ensure that whatever agreement you and your ex-spouse arrive at is legally enforceable.