You’re probably already worried. The divorce process is overwhelming to say the least. Rest assured, that’s a natural feeling to have, and it’s not unusual for many people to describe divorce as one of the most stressful times in life. Worrying is normal.
During the divorce mediation process people often feels especially stressed because after all the work they’ve done to finally get to mediation, this is where they make very important decisions about their future.
As your nervousness increases going into the mediation process, remember the following tips:
1. Not All Mediators are the Same
You may have heard horror stories about divorce mediations that have gone terribly wrong. But those are not the norm. The reason you hear about them is that like most everything in life, everyone talks about the bad stuff. People tend to be quieter when things go right.
If you’ve chosen a good attorney, that attorney will know a good mediator. If you’re choosing your own mediator, know that most mediators do make an effort to be as fair as possible, even if they have to confront a power struggle between parties to a divorce. Do your research and find the best professional you can.
Here’s what you need to know: the divorce mediation process depends to a large extent on the level of conflict in the divorce. The best thing you can do is go into your mediation process extremely well-prepared and remain trusting and open to the process. That being said, if you think your mediator is biased or difficult to work with, don’t hesitate to fire that mediator and hire someone else. It’s your divorce and it’s too important a moment in your life to work with a sub-par professional in the divorce mediation process.
2. If Your Ex Tried to Manipulate or Dominate You During the Marriage, He or She Will Likely Try to Do the Same During Divorce Mediation
People don’t change much, and past behavior is often a perfect indicator of present and future behavior. There’s a reason you’re getting divorced, after all.
The divorce process, and the divorce mediation process in particular, is a great opportunity for you not to put up with bad behavior again. Divorce is freeing for many people because they realize they no longer have be bullied into making decisions that are not in their best interests or the best interest of their children.
If you are concerned about an imbalance of power or intimidation, bring that forward in mediation as well. A good mediator will do his or her best to make sure everything is conducted in a fair manner without intimidation on either side.
3. Know Exactly What Results You Want from the Mediation
You don’t want to go into the mediation process arguing out of anger or just to be right. That’s a common mistake and it doesn’t get you what you need. You need to mediate a financial settlement that you can live with going forward, and you need a child custody plan and monetary support plan that will work as well.
Doing things like trying to take things that you know your ex wants, just because you know he wants them, is not a good use of mediation, and will prolong the time and expense of the entire process. You need to have a clear idea of what you want, and that should be what you argue for in mediation.
4. The More You Can Agree on During Mediation, the Better
Pick your battles. The mediation table is not the place to express your negative feelings for your ex-spouse. If you can agree on a few key issues early in mediation, this will establish a sense of trust in the process and will help everyone get to a fair settlement. You don’t want to give up what is in your own best interests, but you also want to agree on things that don’t matter much. Negotiate for what really matters to you and be flexible about things that are not so important.
5. No One is Right or Wrong in the Mediation Room
The divorce mediation process is not about winning points against your ex-spouse. Divorce mediation is about negotiating a fair settlement of the marital property between two people. Therefore, keeping score during the mediation process is a waste of time and energy.
So, to go through the divorce mediation process intelligently, take away the score board, put your emotions aside, and try to work out an agreement that is in the best interest of everyone involved. Watch your ex flounder around in the score-keeping department if you must, but if you keep a cool head on your shoulders and recognize mediation for the business deal that it is, you will get the divorce over faster, it will be more cost-effective, and you’ll be able to put the divorce behind you. Be smart and tough. And never forget: this is all business.
Mediation is a vital part of a the divorce process. Important decisions are made during the mediation, and you will be bound by the final agreement between you and your ex. That beats spending the sizeable money and time going to court and appearing before a judge who would make those important decisions for you without knowing you and your family personally.
Amanda DuBois is the owner of DuBois Cary Law Group. Feel free to contact Amanda at (206) 547-1486 if you have questions about divorce mediation in Washington State.