Divorce mediation is an excellent way to work out divorce issues. However, the divorce mediation process itself is not always smooth sailing. It is not always successful.
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and works to keep the parties focused on productive discussion to resolve divorce issues. During the mediation, emotions can run high, and discussions may come to a halt. One or both parties may refuse to compromise where compromise may be needed. There may be difficulty communicating proposals in an articulate and civil manner.
A productive mediation discussion may first require each party to consult with an attorney to obtain legal advice on the divorce issues.
Here are some items for divorcing couples to consider during the divorce mediation process.
Legal Advice You Should Consider During the Divorce Mediation Process
1. Obtain individual legal counsel to consult with in between mediation sessions.
Even if the mediator is an attorney, he or she only serves as a mediator during the mediation process. They do not serve as an attorney. Obtaining individual legal counsel can provide the individual with legal advice and knowledge regarding the divorce issues and possible solutions.
2. Interview divorce mediators prior to choosing one.
Both parties should be part of the mediator selection process. They should both interview possible candidates and feel comfortable with the mediator. Prior to commencing, the parties should understand the mediation process and costs involved as explained by the mediator.
3. Participate with full attention and minimal distractions.
Mediation sessions can be conducted in person or remotely via video conferencing. Scheduling a time for the mediation session when both parties are able to focus on the discussion with little or no distractions is important. Each party should be able to listen to the other party with full attention. Each party should be able to focus and formulate thoughts as needed for a productive discussion. If a participant is multi-tasking during the mediation discussion, constantly checking their cell phone, cooking dinner, tending to children etc., it could compromise the productivity of the discussion. It could also be perceived as diminished respect for the mediation process.
4. Understand and abide by ground rules.
The mediator may start the mediation process by discussing ground rules with the couple. These rules may pertain to how the parties should act with regard to respect and communication during the mediation session. For example, one ground rule may be that the parties should not interrupt each other. The parties should understand the ground rules and the reasons for implementing them. Abiding by the ground rules helps provide for mutual respect and productive mediation discussions.
5. Know your alternatives to the mediation process.
The mediation process is voluntary. It is not always successful. A party could terminate the mediation process at any time, thereby leaving open the decision as to the next divorce process such as divorce litigation, arbitration, or even choosing a new mediator. If the mediation failed, the reason why it failed can help determine the next process for the parties’ divorce.