Mediation is a collaborative process in which you as the client have the power to speed up the process depending upon how you conduct yourself. Below are tips to help your mediation to move quickly and smoothly:
- Dedicate yourself to problem-solving during your mediation session. Although your emotions may be high, acting out anger and hurt will only delay resolving the issues and extend the process. Instead, seek counseling and prepare yourself mentally before each session to be calm and issue-oriented.
- Make a list after each meeting of what you must do before attending the next session. Your mediator, as your guide, should inform you of what you must do before each meeting. Ask for an agenda and the expectations and objectives of the meeting.
- Be prepared for each session. Your mediator will ask you to bring in financial and legal documents, lists, proposed custody schedules, and other items for the meetings. Be sure to make copies for the mediator and your spouse and be ready to discuss the issues in an organized manner. You have a fiduciary duty to disclose all income, assets, debts, business opportunities, and everything financial. The more prepared you are, the quicker you can accomplish resolution.
- Make a commitment to discuss the issues of divorce only with the mediator present, in session or by phone. When parties discuss the difficult and painful issues outside of the mediator's presence, there is a tendency for one party to pressure the other party. There is no balance of power or neutral to create an atmosphere of fairness. It's easy to become adversarial and escalate the conflict. When emotions get out of control, the process is delayed by having to work through the anger to reestablish trust. Negotiating with the mediator present will deflect the conflict, and the process will move forward instead of backward.
- Stay positive and Create Mutually Satisfying Agreements. Unlike litigation which focuses on blame, arguments, and getting a one sided win, when you are in mediation, you have the opportunity to propose creative solutions for settlement which benefit both you and your spouse. If you focus on creative solutions which will be mutually satisfying to both parties, you'll arrive at a fair and committed agreement effectively, efficiently, and quickly.
Mari Frank is an Orange County divorce attorney, mediator, collaborative lawyer and Certified Privacy Professional. She teaches negotiation and mediation at the University of California in Irvine and is a Certified Trainer of lawyers for the State Bar of California.