Tips For A Successful Mediation

Let's Untie the Knot | Tips For A Successful Mediation

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement.  In mediation, you and your spouse hire a neutral third party to meet with you in an effort to resolve your divorce.  The mediator does not make decisions for you but rather tries to help you reach some sort of compromise so that you can avoid going to court.  Although not every case is well suited for mediation, if you are able to resolve your case in mediation, you will end up saving substantial time and money.  The following are 6 key tips to make your mediation successful:

  1. Research mediators before you hire:  

Virtually anyone can hold himself out to be a mediator.  With more and more people wanting to avoid the financial and emotional strain of litigation, mediation has seen a tremendous boost in popularity over the last several years.  With demand for mediation growing, more and more individuals are holding themselves as “mediators.”  Your choice of mediator will have a significant impact on the success of the process.  Make sure to do your homework and take time to interview your potential mediator.  Ask questions such as:

  1.  No lawyers allowed:

    Many divorce attorneys are also divorce mediators.  You should keep each spouse’s personal attorney out of the mediation.  Divorce attorneys are used to fighting in court and this makes them skilled for litigation.  The presence of attorneys in mediation, however, make parties less likely to compromise and can make mediation ineffective.  It is crucial to get advice from your attorney both before and after mediation to make sure that your best interests are taken into account.  However, you will accomplish far more if you leave your attorney out of the actual mediation process.

  1.  Gather all of your financial information:

    In order to have a successful mediation, you must understand the entirety of what is at stake.  To ensure you cover everything, make a master list of all of your assets and possessions—regardless of whether you think it is marital property or separate property.  This list should cover all real property (house, rental property, vacation homes) to personal property (books, furniture, jewelry), vehicles, credit cards, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, stocks and other financial products.  Make sure to take into account everything that you own.

  1.   You and your spouse must be active participants in the process:

    In order for your mediation to be successful, you and your spouse must be active and willing participants.  The mediator does not have the power to make any his decisions and it is not his job to cajole you into agreement.  You have to be willing to compromise and to consider the other party’s perspective.  Participating in a mediation requires you to be personally involved in all of the events that occur in the session, to listen to the other side’s concerns and beliefs and to actively voice your opinion.

  1.  Know exactly what you want and what you are willing to give up:

    You need to have a clear understanding of your bottom line.  You should know what you are willing to negotiate about and what is non-negotiable for you.  To do this, you need to look at what you need to be happy in your post-divorce life.  No matter how skilled you are at negotiation, you are not going to get everything you want in your divorce.  Make a list of things you would be willing to give up to your spouse.  Then make a second list of what you need to have to settle your case (i.e., the “non-negotiables”).  If you know that you will not compromise on physical child custody, put it on your non-negotiable list.  In contrast, if you are open to discussion about different custody arrangements, be flexible and receptive to your spouse’s suggestions.

  1. Keep your emotions under control:

    It may be exceedingly difficult to stay calm and rationale when your spouse is pushing your buttons.  But your mediation will only be successful if you can both keep a level head and avoid acting emotionally.  If you feel yourself compelled to raise your voice, take a deep breath and wait until you can regain your poise.  If you feel as if you are getting bullied in the mediation process, then ask for a break.  It is much better to stop and clear your head so that you can continue on with the mediation in a productive way.

    Mediation presents a great opportunity to try and settle your case without going to trial.  However, mediation doesn’t work for every couple.  Find a knowledgeable and experienced mediator with whom you feel comfortable.  Importantly, remember that mediation is not a “winner takes all” process.  Be informed, prepared and clear about what matters most to you.  Finally, approach the process with a level-head and a desire to find a compromise with which both you and your spouse are satisfied.
Let's Untie the Knot | Postnup Primer

Postnup Primer

A post-nuptial agreement (also known as a “postnup”) is a formal, written consensus between two parties, entered into after the marriage occurs.  In order for...

Read More