People often assume that divorce mediation is only effective when both parties are in complete agreement (or close to complete agreement) about how they wish to proceed. Just because the two of you are not getting along, however, does not preclude the option of mediation. In fact, if you and your spouse are struggling to maintain an amicable relationship, or if you feel things have become too adversarial, mediation could help you come back together long enough to plan out how your future will go. An experienced professional mediator can help reestablish communication at least for purposes of planning your future.
Here are five tips that will help you formulate your plan for what you want to say to your spouse to encourage them to accept the option of divorce mediation:
- Learn about divorce mediation first before proposing it to your spouse. Find out how the process works so that you can explain it clearly and answer a few basic questions about the process. Find out how much it costs, and which mediators are available where you live.
- Come from the position of sharing information about divorce mediation rather than trying to give him or her the hard sell. Present the information you have gathered to your spouse, and allow him or her time to digest it. You can make an argument for why you think this is the best option for you without demanding that he or she agree to mediation. Being firm and positive about the experience, as opposed to “pushy,” can help ease some of the tension.
- Allow your spouse to do his or her own research into mediators. While we believe you should compile your own list of preferred mediators and services, your spouse may want to do the same. If he or she seems adamant about a particular mediator, and you are undecided, agree to that person or firm’s services. Or, ask your spouse to attend a consultation with your choice, and then do the same with his or her choice.
- Be realistic about costs and timelines. Divorce can be very expensive, and very time-consuming. Divorce mediation, however, comes with a set timeline that works for you, and costs significantly less. Presenting this option as a way to save money and time may prove more effective.
- Emphasize that mediation is a process that can protect each spouse’s rights. Relay that a good mediator includes education about the divorce process and each party is treated equally.
- Emphasize that your finances require special attention. If your family’s finances are complicated, an experienced mediator has the knowledge to understand your financial situation. If it is necessary, mediation will include bringing a neutral CPA or financial specialist into the mediation process.
- Do not give up if your first attempt is met with a lukewarm response. Your spouse may need time to think about the process, and come to his or her own conclusions. If he or she did not seem thrilled at the prospect of mediation, wait a few days and then broach it again. Be calm and open when you ask if he or she has had enough time to consider the process, and be willing to wait a bit longer if that is what it takes.
At Divorce Mediation Associates, we offer a positive, economical solution for parties who are ready to get a divorce. As divorce mediators working for couples throughout Northern Virginia, we understand the difficult emotions involved, and we commit to being a neutral third party to support our clients in moving through the divorce process in a smooth and positive way. You are welcome to get information about mediation or divorce by calling 703-665-7592, or contact us to schedule an in-person appointment.