Even in the most amicable divorce, there are likely to be contested issues. When parties reach an impasse, you can still proceed with a pro se divorce. You may simply need the help of a trained mediator to help you and the other party work through disagreements. We have partnered with the Family Law Resource Group, LLC to provide divorce and custody mediation services.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Mediation helps otherwise cooperative parties get past impasses without resorting to divorce litigation. By facilitating problem-solving and compromise, mediation helps parties:
- Maintain a cooperative relationship
- Trained mediators help parties keep their focus on the issues that need to be resolved without taking sides or allowing conversations to veer off in unproductive directions. This focus better allows parties to emerge from mediation with clear decisions made and, in the case of a divorce with children, the co-parenting relationship intact so that the children’s best interests will continue to be prioritized.
- Save money
- Mediation allows parties to work through conflict efficiently (as sessions are timed) and cost-effectively. Mediation sessions are, by far, less expensive than attorney’s fees, and a successful mediation session eliminates costs associated with additional hearings.
Mediation also ensures that personal family matters and information remain confidential.
How Mediation Works
During a mediation session, you and your spouse will meet in the same room with a trained mediator to discuss any disputes surrounding your divorce in a safe and constructive environment.
The mediator is a neutral party, not a decision maker. The mediator will not side with a person, an issue or a proposed solution. No outcome will be called right or wrong, better or worse. Instead, the mediator will simply ask questions and guide you through decision-making. The mediator will not represent you or your spouse, and their services end after the allotted time has expired.
A trained mediator can help you and your spouse find mutually agreeable answers to common divorce questions like:
- Where will I live?
- Where will my children live?
- How will I pay my bills?
- How will we divide all our property?
- How much child support will I pay/receive?
- Will I have to pay alimony? How much?
By brainstorming and working through different options with a trained mediator, you and your spouse come up with solutions that are best suited to your unique family situation. So, you and your spouse—not the Court—stay in control of your divorce and determine your family’s future.
When you and your spouse reach solutions, the mediator will help you draft a Mediation Agreement that reflects the decisions you made together.
Tips for Successful Mediation
You can increase the likelihood of a successful mediation session with some thoughtful preparation. Before mediation, take the time to:
- Ask yourself: What do I really want?
- Be honest with yourself about what really matters to you. For instance, if at first you say you want the house, is it really the house? Or, is what you want to stay in the same community? To own rather than rent? To provide your kids a sense of stability? Whatever it is, keep it firmly in mind as you enter negotiations. You may get exactly what you ask for, but if you remain open to possibilities, something equally good — or even better — may present itself.
- State your goals and name your bargaining chips
- Make a two-column list. In one column, create your divorce wish list. Include everything from the house to the flat screen TV to your stock portfolio to your desired child custody arrangement. In the next column next, list what you are willing to give or give up (i.e. bargaining chips) to get the item. For instance, to get the flat screen TV, you are willing to give up the iPad or pay $500 cash. To get the stock portfolio, you are willing to give up a larger percentage of your retirement funds, etc. The goal of mediation is to find resolutions with which both parties are content. Knowing what you are and are not willing to give up will help strike that balance.
You can also increase the chances for successful mediation by practicing patience during your session.Keep in mind that you and your spouse are seeking mediation because you do not see eye to eye on one or more issues. Give the mediator and the mediation process time to work. In other words, do not expect that just by scheduling a mediation session that your spouse will no longer have standoffs. Instead, if you are able, spend private time with the mediator and share your higher goals. These goals may spark a creative solution to the impasse.
If you are anxious about working through contested issues with your spouse, you may consider facilitation services. Facilitation works much like mediation, but instead of the parties meeting with the mediator in the same room, the mediator moves between you and your spouse in separate rooms.
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