Divorce mediation is a process that requires the cooperation of both spouses. In fact, the whole foundation of divorce mediation is based on the concept of transparency, cooperation, and reasonableness. At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we often tell our clients what the “likely” outcome would be if they went to court. Of course, this usually can’t be predicted with 100% accuracy because you never know what the attorneys will argue and what the judge will decide. However, we can be sure that the Family Code and laws of community property will be applied to the case. When we tell our clients what may happen if they go to court, and explain that they are able to get the same or a similar result through divorce mediation it helps them keep the big picture in mind.
Specifically, do they want to spend triple the time, money, and emotional resources to get to a similar outcome, or do they want to fully commit to the divorce mediation? The old saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” In the practice of divorce mediation, this rings true. As a divorce mediator, you can tell the clients all about the benefits of divorce mediation but you can’t force their hand in the process. If you are considering a divorce and thinking that divorce mediation might be right for you, read the following three keys to cooperation in divorce mediation:
1. Don’t shoot the messenger.
A lot of times, people come to divorce mediation because they have different perspectives about how the issues of their divorce should be resolved. For example, one spouse may feel they are entitled to a certain item of property while the other thinks it should be split. These couples come to their divorce mediator for guidance, asking what a judge would do if they went to court. Your divorce mediator is a neutral. This means that he or she cannot take sides in the divorce. However, sometimes the information your divorce mediator provides will weigh more in favor for one person than the other. If this happens, don’t take it personally. Your divorce mediator is trying to help you create a solution and is trying to inform you and your spouse correctly. Remember, the information your divorce mediator provides does not need to guide your decision at all. After learning about what the law says on a particular issue, you and your spouse can decide on something that you feel is fair. This decision can be completely different than what the law says. Keep the information in perspective and stay open minded. That is one of the keys to a successful divorce mediation.
2. Come prepared.
Your divorce mediator is there to help you work through some of your financial matters and concerns. To do this, he or she will need all of the necessary documents to understand your financial situation. For example, bank statements, retirement account statements, appraisals for real estate, and mortgage statements will be necessary in order for your divorce mediator to understand the value of your property. Even when it takes a little bit of time to prepare for your divorce mediation, it is worth it!
Many people get anxiety when they think about what is to come during their divorce mediation meetings. They imagine all kinds of scenarios that may happen. It is very important to remember that you are in control of the outcome. That means that if you are not comfortable with something in divorce mediation, you do not have to agree to it. It is as simple as that! Take some time to think about the outcome you want from your divorce mediation process. Then, come to the meetings with an understanding of what you are willing to compromise on and what your “non-negotiables” are. This will help you stay calm and rational during your divorce mediation.