1. Be prepared to compromise and come to an agreement, not win
It goes without saying that bad feelings often accompany divorcing couples. There can be a sense of wanting to get even, to win, or to be repaid for the sadness you’ve experienced as a result of the marriage. Many divorcing individuals want to find a sense of fairness that they feel doesn’t exist at present.
When seeking to “win” in a divorce negotiation, compensation for suffering or returning to what feels like a state of fairness is not likely to happen. This is especially true when children are involved.
When you approach divorce mediation, you need to be prepared to come to a compromise in order to sign an agreement. You’re going to have to give and take. You’re going to have to be willing to give up some wishes that you might feel you deserve, in order to receive most of the items that are most important to you.
2. Set aside your personal emotions and prepare to work rationally
There are certainly a lot of emotions swirling around a divorce. One can go through the stages of grief for as long as a couple of years. These stages of grief don’t just happen in a successive order. You can cycle in and out of them randomly. Sadness, anger, and remorse over the loss of your marriage are understandable feelings to have during this crucial period in your life. They help you heal and recover from the loss.
Passionate Interaction in Mediations Pushes Couples into Litigation
These emotions, however, can be very counter-productive when trying to negotiate a divorce agreement. The process of mediation is a rational one. Both individuals must be willing to set aside their emotions and come to an agreement that is practical and possible. Rage, wanting revenge, strong unrealistic hopes of reuniting, and wanting to stall the negotiation will make mediation an ineffective process, requiring that the couple move to litigation, a much more lengthy, expensive, and emotionally challenging process.
3. Create a list of all assets, possessions, and debts
It’s important to get a clear and comprehensive overview of your all the items that you and your spouse jointly own. If you’ve been married for many years, this can really add up and get complicated. But that does not mean that mediation won’t work in helping you find reasonable resolution on negotiating the separation of these various assets.
Don’t Let Lack of Information Stall the Process
To help the mediation process, it’s vital that you create an accurate list beforehand so that nothing gets left out in the divorce agreement, and nothing holds up the process later, requiring unexpected negotiation.
4. Form a budget
One of the biggest challenges, as you separate into two households, is predicting the financial implications. It can be challenging to know exactly what your actual expenses will be. Try to estimate as conservatively as possible and be as precise as you can.
The best way to know what your expenses are going to be after the divorce is through a written spending plan. Having a plan that is written down will not only be helpful for you as you organize your new life, but it will also be vital in the mediation process. It will help you and your attorney know what your needs are and what your goals should be in the final divorce agreement. It also helps the mediator to communicate with the other party realistic and rational options that are needed to bring the divorce process to a conclusion.
5. Decide what your priorities are
“You can’t always get what you want,” as the song goes. So, when you’re preparing for divorce, it’s a good idea to decide what’s important to you, and what you can let go. By knowing beforehand what you’re willing to give up, you are in a better position to negotiate.
Is getting the right schedule with the kids more important than the amount of alimony? Maybe staying in your home is a big deal to you. Maybe you want a particular possession with a lot of sentimental value. Maybe your schedule is flexible and so getting the certain days with the kids isn’t as big of a deal to you.
6. Make a list of concerns and be prepared to share
Are you concerned about daycare for the kids? Maybe you’re unsure if your spouse is prepared for the responsibility of caring for the children alone. Does a child have unique health needs? Maybe splitting your investments is going to be a problem. Whatever’s keeping you up at night, make a note of these issues and be prepared to discuss them in mediation. Now is the time to resolve these concerns.
7. Find a divorce mediator with a history of success
Not all divorce mediators are the same. Mediation is a skill. And years of experience helps. The legal knowledge of your mediator also helps. See what others are saying about the mediation specialist you’ve chosen. Walk into negotiations ready to find solution.