Mediation works when it is done right. It can be a fabulous way of reducing animosity, finalizing a divorce quickly and efficiently, keeping your personal life and private details more confidential, saving money and resolving conflict. Mediation is not right everyone – it only works when there is no power imbalance, both parties agree to be transparent with finances, each spouse has a serious desire for settlement and neither party has denied access to the children. Benefits of mediation include greater post-divorce stability and shielding your kids from conflict. So what can you do to increase your chances of successfully mediating a family law dispute? We’ve included some tips below to keep in mind when you embark on this process.
1. Commit to being a good listener: Ugh, really? Yes. When spouses in mediation have good listening skills (and refrain from interrupting and attacking), settlement discussions stay on track. Bonus points for empathizing with your ex as you may find that s/he becomes more cooperative when feeling like they’ve been ‘heard.’
2. Choose your consulting lawyer wisely: A lawyer who is not skilled at mediation or who is not supportive of the mediation process can kill your chances of settlement. Most divorce lawyers try to take over and control the entire case. This just sends you into litigation mode. But why do I need a consulting lawyer? A consulting lawyer can give you answers that are specifically tailored to your case. An experienced consulting lawyer can act as a law coach on an as-needed basis. Between sessions, she can clarify your questions and prepare your for negotiations by evaluating your best/worst case scenarios, help you identify legal claims you may not have known you are entitled to (e.g reimbursements for joint expenses you paid after separation or for a portion of the fair rental/use value for the property your spouse has had exclusive use of since separation) and coach you in negotiating techniques. Former clients have asked us to predict the range of possible legal outcomes if they were to go to court, the cost of litigation, and review agreements (make sure that what the mediator prepared says what you want it to say!) Another great perk of having a consulting lawyer is that s/he can be ready to jump in should negotiations fail.
Mediation might be the answer to many of your concerns going into a divorce, but you need to be prepared. Sign up for a free subscription to read more tips for a successful mediation.