For divorcing spouses who want to end their marriage without resorting to litigation, there are a few options available. One of these options is divorce mediation. In mediation, the spouses and their respective attorneys work with a neutral third-party mediator, who, unlike a judge, does not render any binding decisions. Instead, the mediator’s role is to help the spouses come to terms amicably so that they do not have to ask a judge to set the terms of their divorce for them.
While mediation is a collaborative process – and while the goal of the process is to reach a compromise – spouses who are considering divorce mediation must not lose sight of the fact that they ultimately need to do what is necessary to protect their legal and financial interests long-term. With this in mind, here are some of the secrets to getting what you really want in divorce mediation in California:
Secret #1: Mediation Really is about Compromise
In order for mediation to be successful, both spouses need to be willing to compromise. After all, if your spouse was willing to give you everything you wanted, then you wouldn’t be considering mediation in the first place.
When preparing for divorce mediation, it is important to approach the process with the right perspective: If you unrealistically expect to get everything, the process won’t work and you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you accept that you will need to give up some things in order to get others, then you are far more likely to achieve a positive result through the mediation process.
Secret #2: Preparation is Key
In order to get what you want through the mediation process, you need to develop a strategy in advance. You need to know your priorities, you need to know your spouse’s priorities (at least to the extent that you can make educated guesses), and you need to know when it is time to compromise for the greater good.
If you go into mediation expecting the mediator to guide you, you are going to feel woefully underprepared, and this is going to show in the outcome of your first mediation session. However, if you go to the mediation table with a strategy in hand, you will be able to be an active participant and you will be able to steer the session toward a positive result.
Secret #3: You Don’t Have to Come to Terms the First Day
When spouses go to mediation, it is common for them to feel pressured to make significant progress on the first day. While this should certainly be the goal, you should not feel compelled to make concessions simply for the sake of moving the process forward.
Oftentimes, the first mediation session is simply about setting expectations and getting a feeling for what everyone can expect in the weeks or months to come. So, don’t get anxious. Stick to your plan; and, if the first day doesn’t result in any significant compromises, that’s okay.
Secret #4: Your Attorney is Your Advocate and Advisor
If your mediator is good at his or her job, he or she will present options that seem very appealing. In fact, you might be prepared to take the mediator’s suggestions and run with them without too much additional consideration.
However, while this is the mediator’s role as a neutral third party, your attorney’s role is to serve as your advocate and advisor. During the divorce mediation process, you will want to listen to your attorney’s advice and pair this with the mediator’s suggestions in order to make decisions that serve your best interests.
Secret #5: Mediation Doesn’t Work for Everyone
Finally, while divorce mediation is an effective tool for many divorcing couples, it doesn’t work for everyone. If you try mediation and it doesn’t work, this does not mean you have failed—it simply means that you will need to pursue another route in order to finalize the terms of your divorce.
Once again, you should not feel pressured to compromise if your spouse is unwilling to negotiate in good faith. The outcome of your divorce could impact the rest of your life, so you need to maintain a long-term perspective and consider alternatives if a mediated settlement is not your best option.
Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?
If you are contemplating a divorce in North County, CA and would like more information about divorce mediation, we encourage you to get in touch. To request a confidential initial case evaluation with San Diego divorce attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist Richard M. Renkin, please call 619-299-7100 or send us a message online today.