Divorcing couples often have the opportunity to resolve their divorce issues using the divorce mediation process. They may find success and reap the benefits of a successful divorce mediation. These benefits can include the satisfaction of a couple being the architects of their own divorce settlement terms, saving money by not litigating, and reducing stress and anxiety by not having to litigate.
However, sometimes a divorcing couple will not have success with divorce mediation and they may find themselves having no choice but to litigate.
There is no guaranteed formula that can assure a successful divorce mediation. However, below are five key items that can help make divorce mediation successful:
Ability to Communicate with Each Other. The divorce mediation process requires the couple to work together in order to resolve their divorce issues. Often times in mediation the couple is sitting across from each other at a table, but that does not always have to be the case. Sometimes during in person mediation the mediator may split up the parties, put them in different rooms, and then the mediator will shuttle from room to room acting as a facilitator and talking with each party separately. Or sometimes the divorce mediation will be held virtually with the mediator deciding when the parties should be in the same or different virtual rooms. However, regardless of whether or not the parties are face to face, at the end of the day the parties need to be able to communicate with each other in some way, shape, or form in mediation so they can work together to resolve their divorce issues.
- Willingness to Compromise. It is often difficult if not impossible for a couple to work out an agreement on their own if one or both of them is not willing to compromise. Trying to work out an agreement is a two way street. Sometimes it is helpful for the parties to look at the big picture and understand that if the divorce mediation process is not successful their matter may proceed to litigation before a judge who does not know them or their children but will make the decisions for them.
Looking Ahead to the Future instead of Behind. The mediator acts as a facilitator and manages the discussion for the parties, focusing on the divorce issues and how the parties could resolve them. The parties may at times veer off topic and go down a rabbit hole discussing negative past events of their marriage and blaming the other person. In this situation the mediator may have to pull them out of that rabbit hole and help direct their focus towards the future, focusing on their lives after divorce. Identifying the divorce issues with an eye towards the future can help reduce negativity, improve communication, and increase productivity.
Participating in Good Faith and Treating Each Other with Respect. During the mediation process, each party should be participating in good faith to try to work out an agreement. They should also have mutual respect for each other as they both roll their sleeves up and work on resolving their divorce issues. Mediation is a voluntary process. If a party is only going through the motions of mediation to delay the inevitable litigation and has no intention of trying to work out an agreement with their spouse, how fair is that to the other party? How will that help the parties trust each other moving forward?
Disclosing Financials and Other Important Information. Disclosure and transparency of financial and other important information is needed during the divorce mediation process in order for each party to fairly assess the situation and discuss resolution. If one party cannot trust the other to disclose information that party for good reason may decide to terminate the mediation process. Honesty, good faith, full disclosure and transparency should be provided by both parties.