Strategies for Effective Divorce Mediation
Hammering out the details of divorce is right up there in terms of emotional toll as the end of the marriage itself. However, the possible benefits of private settlement over court intervention are great, especially over the long-term. Mediation is one option divorcing couples frequently seek as an alternative to the highly-adversarial process of litigation, as it usually offers a faster resolution, solutions tailored to the needs of the family, and less cost. Unlike direct negotiation, though, mediation is a more structured process overseen by an independent mediator who is there to help facilitate agreement. Like every procedure that requires give and take, couples in mediation need to be both open to compromise, but also very clear on their objectives and goals.
Mediation is routinely ordered in divorce cases as a prerequisite to the formal initiation of direct court involvement, so divorcing couples need to prepare for this step. Mediation is non-binding, though, and either party can walk away, as happened in the divorce of Lindsay Lohan’s father and stepmother, Michael Lohan and Kate Major. Nevertheless, entering into the mediation process with some key strategies in mind will greatly enhance the likelihood an agreement can be reached, and a discussion of points couples should employ, under the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney, during mediation to increase its effectiveness, will follow below.
Mediation is only as effective as the effort each spouse puts in to prepare for the sessions. Mediators can help foster agreement, and point out possible places of compromise, but only if the parties do their homework to gather and prepare key information. A list of property, including all assets and possession, as well as a list of financial and credit card accounts, needs to be made in advance and brought to mediation sessions. This information is a roadmap of sorts on what needs to be covered, and the financial resources the couple has available. In addition, income records and a list of recurring expenses is also necessary. This information is the foundation for the calculation of child support and alimony, and as a consequence, is essential to addressing these issues. If child custody needs to be resolved, the child’s schedule, and a draft proposed time-sharing schedule will be needed to organize discussions around this challenging topic. Essentially, this preparation serves to give each spouse a good grasp of the facts most pertinent to dissolving the marriage, which will make each session more productive, as both sides will not need to spend time figuring where to start or determining the pieces that need to be analyzed.
Approach During Mediation Sessions
Once the initial prep work is completed, the next big piece is how to the approach the mediation sessions themselves. As an aside, the number of sessions a couple attends will depend upon the complexity of the issues to be resolved, and how well each side is able to communicate and cooperate. Usually, though, two or three is enough to reach an agreement. Moving to managing the outcome of the sessions, the first thing to keep in mind is the need to have clear goals and objectives when walking into the room. Without knowing what one wants, it is impossible to know when to agree. Expanding on this premise is the need to ask for more, but not too much more, than what one is willing to accept. People need to feel they are getting value for their cooperation, so if a spouse starts exactly where they want to end, the other side may not feel he/she is really getting any concessions, and may become resistant to agreement. Finally, it is important to know one’s tendency to lose patience or become angry, and do what is necessary to resist these urges, as they only serve to hinder progress.
Contact an Orlando Divorce Mediation Lawyer
Divorce is hard, but it does not need to be contentious. Mediation is one option couples can pursue as a less antagonistic method of reaching a settlement agreement. The attorneys at the Donna Hung Law Group have experience helping divorcing clients mediate their issues, both as legal counsel and in the role of mediator. If you have questions about your divorce, contact the Orlando law firm today at (407) 999-0099 for a consultation.