Understanding what to expect from mediation, and how mediation might affect the divorce process for you, can help you decide whether to pursue mediation.
Mediation Tips: Our Best Practices
You can pave the way for a successful mediation by utilizing the following negotiation tactics:
- Focus on collaboration, not competition. If both parties are determined to "win" the mediation, then one (or in many cases, both) of them will inevitably end up "losing," failing to get what they want. Mediation is a mutual problem-solving process, not a contest to see who gets the most assets or wins the best alimony arrangement. The more open and friendly the negotiations are, the better chance each party has of getting what they want out of the mediation. You want to aim for a win-win scenario. Even if you can't resolve the divorce effectively in mediation, the court usually favors the more reasonable or collaborative party, so you should always try to approach mediation in good faith.
- Don't make things black and white. If you go into mediation with an "I'm right, they're wrong" mentality, you'll only make the mediation more contentious and less productive.
- Accept that both parties might make mistakes or act irrationally. If you're going through a divorce, tensions will be high. Both parties are suffering from a significant amount of emotional turmoil and might say things they don't mean, or rush into ill-advised decisions. Accept that you and your soon-to-be-ex might both have bad days, and try to forgive them for out-of-turn conduct.
- Always have a goal in mind. You should enter every negotiation with the ideal mediation arrangement already in your head, so you have a goal in mind. You may not always achieve that ideal arrangement, but knowing what to fight for in advance can help you compromise more effectively.
- Don't give something up without getting something in return. For each concession you make, you should receive one in turn from the other party. Mediation should be a give and take, so make sure one party isn't monopolizing the process.
- Consider the position behind the proposal. Let's say one party asks to keep the family car. Instead of taking the proposition at face value, think about why they want the car. Perhaps they have a bad credit score and worry about getting a poor interest rate on a lease for a new vehicle. Maybe they don't have the savings to finance a new car in the first place. Perhaps the car has more sentimental value for them than it does for you. Understanding the real motivation behind a request can help you compromise more effectively or leverage that knowledge to receive a better concession from the other party.
- Focus on effective communication. Try to make propositions in a way you know the other person will understand. Make sure you communicate what value the other party would get from a proposed compromise. Making sure the other party understands not only why you want something but also what they'll receive in return can make negotiating easier.
While mediation can be difficult, it's often less stressful and more cost-effective than taking care of a divorce in court. Approaching mediation using the above tips can help both parties reach a mutually acceptable compromise.