The benefits of mediation are great and well-known: saving money, getting the divorce done quicker, avoiding court and the legal fees and stress that go with it, and the peace that comes with amicably resolving your divorce rather than engaging in a nasty divorce battle. However, divorce mediation is not easy. Many couples begin the process and give up because of some disagreements or frustration. Here are some tips from our experience that will help you to successfully navigate the mediation process and experience the benefits that mediation offers. You can remember these items by the following acrostic: C-O-P-P-E-R.
It is always advisable for a couple to discuss the issues outside of sessions. Importantly, you will not be paying a mediator for these conversations. The more that you and your spouse can agree on outside of mediation sessions, the more cost-effective the process is going to be. You and your spouse must be able to successfully communicate and compromise in order for the mediation process to succeed.
During the course of mediation, your mediator is likely going to ask you for some information that is needed such as tax and income information, values of accounts and assets, amount of liabilities, etc. Bring a pad and pencil (or a tablet or laptop if you are high-tech) to the sessions and make a note of all information that is being requested. Do not delay to contact your providers and request this information as sometimes it can take time for the financial institutions to provide the information requested. The more organized you are, the less time your mediator will have to spend organizing information on your behalf so this will save time and money.
Some clients come to mediation once and then do not return for months or even years. Some, unfortunately, never come back. It is normal not to want to come to divorce mediation as it is not a fun or easy process. You have work and personal issues to deal with and it is hard to find time for mediation. In addition, it is natural to avoid dealing with some of the tough issues that need to be handled in a divorce. However, it is important that you commit to the process. We recommend that you meet with your mediator at least once a month until you are able to come to an agreement on all issues. Couples that are committed to the process and continue without long delays are likely to successfully come to an agreement and make mediation work for them.
Sometimes clients come to mediation with no kids, no assets, and simply want to divorce. In this case, it is possible to meet once and to resolve all of your limited issues. However, most of the time couples come to mediation with complex issues that need to be resolved such as parenting time, dealing with the marital home, dividing assets and debts, and determining child and spousal support. You should not expect these complex issues to be resolved immediately. Therefore, you must be patient with the mediation process and also with your spouse and any disagreements you may have. A little patience goes a long way in divorce mediation.
The mediator’s role is to educate and teach you about the laws and the way the courts usually implement these laws. However, after you discuss an issue with your mediator, you still may be unsure or confused on certain topics. Therefore, it is always a good idea for you to try to educate yourself on the issues. There is a wealth of information online and a good idea to do Google searches and to read articles from reputable sources. Do not take advice from a non-lawyer friend or colleague as gospel. Often times, people give legal or divorce advice when they do not have the requisite experience or knowledge. Besides online research, another source of learning is finding a mediation-friendly divorce lawyer. It is always a good idea to consult with your own individual lawyer, either during the mediation process or after all terms are agreed upon. We always recommend that our clients consult with a lawyer because your mediator is a neutral party that cannot give either party legal advice. Your mediation-friendly divorce lawyer is another great source to educate yourself so you are making educated and well-informed decisions.
Divorce is an emotionally charged time. It is normal to experience extreme emotions such as sadness, anger, and betrayal. However, mediation is a process that works best when the parties come to mediation sessions with an open mind, willing to listen to their spouse/partner, and willing to communicate in a respectful and professional manner. It is always encouraged that the parties speak their minds and are open and honest. However, the manner in which the parties communicate can be integral to whether or not the divorce mediation is successful. Be respectful to the mediator and your spouse and this will have a positive impact on your progress.
If you and your spouse come to the mediation and make an effort to take the five steps listed above, there is a good chance that you will be successful in your efforts to stay out of Court and mediate your divorce! COPPER is not only a precious metal, it is a great method for making your divorce mediation a successful one.