Divorce Mediation – Do’s and Don’ts

Do have an open mind. The single most important thing to bring to divorce mediation is an open mind. The goal of mediation is to settle the case. Mediation is a collaborative effort between you, your spouse, your mediator, and your attorneys. Your mediator, as a third party neutral, will help you look at issues from different perspectives and generate objective solutions to resolve your case. It is important to be open to and seriously consider all possible solutions.

Do come prepared. Documentation is important because it helps your mediator understand the facts and reduces the issue of “he said vs. she said.” If you have concerns or grievances you want to discuss and you have documentation or specific examples which illustrate your concerns (such as emails, text messages, social media posts, school or health records, financial statements, journals, etc.), it is helpful to bring this documentation with you to mediation in case it is needed. It is also important to remember that mediators are not judges or decision makers and as a result, the documentation may or may not actually be necessary to reach an agreement.

Don’t withhold information from the mediator. It is important to be open and honest with the mediator. Mediation is a confidential process and as such, your mediator must keep settlement discussions private, so you can open and honest in mediation without fear that the information you share will be detrimental to your legal case. As needed, it is also possible to “caucus” or meet privately with your mediator and anything you tell the mediator in that one-on-one setting will be kept confidential from your spouse. This is the time to air all of your concerns and be honest about what you want so the mediator can best assist you with reaching a settlement that you can live with in the short and long-term.

Don’t bring family members or friends with you to divorce mediation. The divorce is between you and your spouse. Parents, siblings, and friends although well-intentioned, are biased by their love for you and do not have a stake in the outcomes. In trying to help and support you, their presence may actually have a detrimental effect on the mediation. Regardless of their age, your children should also not be involved in the mediation process unless you and your spouse have made arrangements for a “child-inclusive” mediation process. This is your life and your settlement will be unique to your situation, you need to make these important decisions for yourself.

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