Karen A. Covy, J.D. is a divorce attorney and family law mediator in Chicago Illinois. She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends, How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially and Legally (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015).
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Read the Transcript of this Podcast Below.
Are My Spouse and I Good Candidates for Divorce Mediation?
Karen A. Covy: I know I’m biased and I’ll put that out there right on the front end because I am a divorce mediator, but I really believe in mediation. Why? Because it allows people to make their own decisions for their own life. It puts you in control in a much greater way than you if you go through the traditional litigation route.
That having been said, mediation’s not right for everybody. I would say if you’re considering mediation, one thing you need to think about, and probably the most important thing is, can you talk to each other? Can you and your spouse sit in a room together and negotiate? You may not be able to talk to each other alone without getting into an argument, but if you have a mediator there, an independent third person, do you think that person can keep control of the situation well enough so that the two of you can talk about your situation?
The second thing you need to look at is, is there domestic violence? If you’re involved in a marriage in which domestic violence is involved, you might not want to do mediation because the problem is that there are consequences when you walk out of the room. You may be in the room with a mediator during your sessions and be safe in there, but once you leave the mediator’s office, you’ve often got to deal with the fallout of what happened in the room. That’s really tough for anybody.
If there is domestic violence, there are some mediators who will work with you on that. I won’t say that you can’t use mediation if there is domestic violence involved, but most mediators really think twice about meeting where there’s domestic violence.
Te last thing is, are you both willing to come clean with your financial information? If you or your spouse doesn’t want to provide full information to the mediator, mediation becomes really difficult because you can’t divide up what you don’t know exists, and if one person is determined to make the process difficult, they can do it. To recap, what you want to know to determine if you can do mediation is number one, can you talk to each other? Number two, is there domestic violence or a power imbalance between you and your spouse that would make mediating difficult? And number three, are both of you willing to come clean with your financial information so that you can actually move forward? I would also say one more. A fourth one is: does your spouse want to mediate?
Like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. If one person really doesn’t want to be a part of mediation, even if you can get them to go and sit in the room, you can’t make them participate effectively. So if one person is dead set against it, it’s not going to work.