I want to mediate my divorce, but my spouse refuses. What can I do?
Bitterness and anger often accompany divorce. You both had great expectations for a loving relationship at your wedding, and now that you’ve “lost that loving feeling”, both of you are hurt, disappointed, and frustrated and may blame your spouse for all that went wrong — whether or not you initiated the dissolution.
If either of you allows your anger to rule your reasoning and you each hire a gladiator/attorney to act out your hostility, you will escalate the conflict and spend a fortune in the battle, and the emotional costs for you both will be enormous (and even worse for your children, no matter what their age).
Because there is little trust between divorcing parties in family law, it’s important to engage an experienced neutral divorce attorney-mediator to explain the divorce mediation process to both of you. Bitterness may cause your spouse to reject any of your suggestions, so provide objective information about the process and its advantages by directing him to articles about mediation at www.DivorceMagazine.com. Ask a qualified attorney-mediator to give you a joint complimentary phone consultation to explain the process to assure you both that you will get a fair agreement based on divorce law.
Let your spouse know that you only want what is fair. Be willing to say that you are 50% responsible for the problems in the marriage and you apologize for your part. Learn to deal with your spouse’s anger by not engaging in verbal matches. Get counseling yourself and learn how to deflect conflict. When you interview divorce mediators, ask them how they will reframe issues so that the anger is dealt with appropriately and both parties will feel heard and understood.
Your spouse may consider divorce mediation when he understands the tremendous advantages. There is a great cost saving because you meet together with one neutral attorney who facilitates resolution and files all the court paperwork (of course you are advised to have independent counsel and a CPA review your final settlement before you sign to assure your comfort with the result). The process is meant to de-escalate the conflict so that you can work out mutually acceptable, positive solutions without increased pain. You will keep your personal and financial information confidential, instead of airing “dirty laundry” in the public court files. You’ll be more likely to get a fair result because you will have a neutral professional to balance the power and focus on your mutual interests. Most people want privacy, security, less stress, and monetary savings — even angry bitter spouses.
Mari Frank is a divorce attorney-mediator in Laguna Niguel, CA (Orange County). She has been featured on numerous national television shows including 48 Hours, Dateline, NBC Nightly News, and The O’Reilly Factor and in newspapers across the nation including the L.A. Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.