Mediation is a non-litigation divorce method for spouses who wish to avoid the cost and stress of going to court. In some cases, couples are ordered to attend mediation by the courts before requesting a court date. Couples can also attempt mediation voluntarily upon filing the divorce complaint by contacting a state certified divorce mediator. The mediator should give you a brief explanation of the mediation process, his or her methodologies, and the cost per hour or session. If couples are willing to compromise and work as a team, a divorce agreement can often be drafted after just a few meetings.
Although there's no guarantee that mediation will work for you, there are some basic tips that can help you through those challenging moments of disagreements and hurt feelings.
- Be honest about your finances.
Don't forget that your debts and liabilities are a part of your martial properties. Thus, it's extremely important to disclose all your financial information through documents such as W2s, tax returns and credit card statements. This may be an uncomfortable topic, but it's the only way to come up with the fairest settlement for both you and your spouse.
- Always put your children first.
If you and your spouse disagree over custody or the appropriate amount of child support, try to focus on what's best for your children. For example, many spouses are set on the idea of having joint custody of the children. However, being frequently shuffled from one home to the other may not be in your children's best interest. Even if the arrangement seems unfair, doing what's best for your children should be your ultimate goal.
- Focus on moving forward.
Accepting the end of a marriage takes time and patience, but it's important not to let the past effect your judgment. Remember that mediation is your chance to take control of the future, regardless of how your spouse hurt or betrayed you. Focusing on the future will help you negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible, thereby allowing you to move on with your life.
- Keep an open mind.
Negotiation, which is the act of reaching an agreement through compromise and discussion, is the most important part of the mediation process. You may have firm ideas about what you are willing to agree to, but unwillingness to consider alternative arrangements will not result in a successful mediation.
- Speak to an attorney about your rights and options.
Mediators can make suggestions and clarify the laws, but they are required to maintain neutrality, so you will need to speak to a family law attorney for legal advice. You should also have an attorney review the proposed divorce agreement before you sign. This is extremely important because you will need to go to court in order to request changes to an existing divorce judgement. The courts rarely approve changes to divorce agreements done through mediation, so it's best to get it right the first time.