Mediation - Is it the swiss army knife of Divorce?
Why is mediation the swiss army knife of divorce- you ask? Simple answer: It is extremely cost effective and offers creative solutions to complex problems in a most flexible, transparent and conciliatory manner.
Flexible, Creative, Private!
Mediation - That is Flexible, Creative, Private!
Mediation is the most creative, fluid and transparent yet private of dispute resolution processes out of all services offered for separating and soon-to-be divorced spouses. You can deem it the swiss army knife of divorce. It malleable and can pivot as needed depending on the issues at hand.
Parents often ask how do they prepare for mediation. Mediation and other dispute resolution services is often unchartered territory for most as they embark on separation and divorce.
Commonly asked questions:
- What would a successful mediation process look like?
- Do we meet together or separately or both?
- Do our lawyers need to be involved and participate as we do?
- Will matters get more inflamed through mediation? ( question really behind this one is- How do you want to feel about yourself during the process? And afterwards? What do you need to achieve that?)
- I have many concerns regarding my assets and children and dividing time sharing- it keeps me up at night. Will things get worse?
- The mediator would ask- What do each of you need in order to move forward?
- What are the obstacles moving forward? What is in the way of moving forward?
- If you had to choose only one thing that would get resolved to your absolute satisfaction, what would it be? And what would be needed to gain even the slightest room for possibility around this issue?
- What is an equitable outcome given your particular circumstances?
- What will provide each of you a sense of financial security? What other kinds of security are important to you?
Build Perspective: Strive for a Win-Win Scenario
- What will things look like in your life two years from now; five years from now?
- How would you like things to be, so they support and reflect you at your best (e.g. happy, content, inspired, relaxed, proud)? For example, if in five years, you really want a fresh start and move to another neighborhood, holding onto the marital home might be viewed in a different light. Even considering a five- or ten-year plan can create some much needed emotional distance from the current crisis, and enable you to access more effectiveness in the present.
- What might be resolved that could add to your sense of stability and optimism about the future?
- What is your understanding of what your spouse needs in order to feel hopeful about the future?
- What do both of you need to get through this process now? And in the early weeks and months following the divorce?
- What is critical to let the mediator know immediately?
- What needs to be said early on, so that you have time with the mediator to properly address it?
- What would be reassuring to you to have in place as soon as possible?
- How would you best like for thee mediation to take place, joint meetings, separate meetings or a combination of both?
Current and Time Sensitive Issues
- Is anything time sensitive and urgent? For example, a car lease is about to expire, which means one of you will soon have no means of transportation, and there is no agreement yet between you. This can seem quite banal but needs addressing right away to avert more serious issues.
- What are some immediate concerns? For example: We are living in the house together and are struggling with how to sustain an environment that is tenable for us, let alone the children.
- How can we make our intermediate living situation liveable?
- How do we tell the children?
- When do we tell the children and What do we say?
How do we make decisions? What kind of problem solver are we- I never really had to think about it before?
Having a good sense of how you are most comfortable working with conflict, solving problems, and making decisions will help you guide your mediator — so she can best meet you where you are. It’s entirely appropriate to be candid about what works for you personally; the mediation is for your benefit and the mediator’s aim is to help you and be able to provide a safe venue for open, transparent dialogue.
- What things do you need more information about in order to make decisions?
- Do you have full financial disclosure?
- What sorts of information tend to organize and support your personal decision-making process? For example, some people find it helpful to know what is typically done in comparable circumstances, as well as some creative solutions others have discovered.
- Are there some areas where you need to be informed of your rights, and the law? Spousal support and child support are areas where strong feelings and fragmented information can obstruct resolution. Often, creating a basic foundation in law and fact can be a helpful launching pad for more generative discussions. Your mediator can provide some context, background and education, as well as answer your specific questions.
- In order to feel informed and comfortable enough to make a decision, where do you go to further your knowledge?
- What is important emotionally and what is important practically? Can you identify places where it is difficult to distinguish between the two?
- Which issues are “loaded” — ie, difficult to speak about without getting triggered, without repeating the same argument and gaining no ground?
- Can you differentiate between your objective and subjective goals and interests in the mediation process. Do you need assistance form your mediator to do so- they are experts at this!!
- What do the children need right now in order to feel safe, in order to be reassured?
- What might your spouse need in order to have his/her parenting supported by you; to be the best parent he/she can be?
- What do you want to overhear your children saying two years from now when asked about the divorce? When asked about your behavior during it?
- What is the optimal future co-parenting relationship like between you and your spouse? What current strengths can you rely on? What is working?
- What needs to happen now in order to support your vision of the future?