As a divorce mediator, I have seen couples reap the benefits of taking control over decision-making during divorce. Mediation allows them to focus on the important and extremely personal details of their lives and shape better settlements. With so much on the line, why wouldn’t every divorcing couple choose mediation?
I suspect some feel afraid or unable to articulate their wants, needs and concerns. Some may believe they are too exhausted emotionally and/or intellectually to think clearly and don’t feel up to the task. Or maybe they are just averse to sitting in the same room as their soon to be ex-spouse.
With few exceptions, these perceived limitations are surmountable and well worth the effort. The payoff is in time, money and satisfaction with the result.
In mediation, it falls on the mediator to create an environment where each person can best express him or herself. I find a few simple steps help people gain the confidence needed to work through their issues in mediation:
- Set clear expectations about how mediation sessions will work. There must be opportunity for a fair exchange; Fear, threats and a lack of respect may not color the discussion. The focus stays on solutions and the future rather than on blame, fault or the past.
- Provide the opportunity to prepare for each session in advance by framing questions for consideration and giving clear directions for gathering information.
- Provide information about the law and other factors for consideration in order to make informed decisions.
- Facilitate communication by helping each person clearly present his or her view of the issues and proposed solutions.
Sometimes, the mere exposure to the other person sharing their “side of the story” invites collaboration and creative problem solving to kick in. Other times, listing options and discussing common and diverse interests leads to compromise and agreement. The goal is to work together using common sense, the facts and the law to allow people the room to determine what works best for them.
Mediation sessions are a series of discussions and decisions. The decisions made are customized to suit the individuals involved. They are not abstract or made in a generic one size fits all way. By actively participating in face-to-face discussions, divorcing couples lay the foundation for life changes that will be the most advantageous possible.
To learn more about divorce mediation, call or email me for a no fee consultation.
Image credit:THOR, used with Creative Commons license.