Getting the most out of mediation

Mediation is a trusted and proven process when entering into a divorce agreement. For many, it can be a quick and cost-effective way to resolve your dispute. Being prepared for the joint session is key.  There are no guarantees you will achieve the outcome you desire but if you approach it correctly, there is more chance that the outcome will be favourable.

We have put together some divorce mediation tips to assist you to ensure your mediation is as productive as possible.

  1. Have an open mind. The divorce and mediation process is a space where you can discuss a range of ideas to resolve your dispute. Be open to the other parties’ thoughts and ideas as this can assist in the resolution of the matter.
  2. Have a think about what you will say in your opening statement. Remember, this is what the mediator will use to formulate the agenda (topics for discussion).
  3. Be responsible for resolving your dispute. Take responsibility for your actions and be clear about what is in dispute. What are the issues in dispute and sources of conflict?
  4. Listen, really listen. It is important that you hear exactly what the other party is saying. Let them finish speaking and don’t interrupt them. If you do not understand what they mean, ask questions when they have finished speaking. Be curious.
  5. Focus on the future and create a way to resolve the dispute amicably and expeditiously. What could you ask the other party to do? What could you offer to do?
  6. Be genuine in wanting a resolution. Long protracted litigation is both emotionally and financially draining. There are no winners.
  7. Get advice. Advice from a specialist Family Lawyer can make all the difference. You can then engage in an informed discussion with the other party. Ask your lawyer about the best and worst outcomes you could expect if the matter was litigated. You should also be aware of the costs involved in litigating.
  8. Prepare some proposals. Know what you want. Be realistic.
  9. For parenting matters, ensure you have considered what is in the best interests of the children. Have an idea of what should be included in your agreement such as holidays, special occasions, handovers and communication.
  10. For financial matters, have a schedule of assets and liabilities. It is much easier to discuss a property settlement when you are aware of what there is to divide. Have documents that evidence the value you attribute to certain items. This leaves little room for disputes as to values. Consider consulting an accountant and financial adviser about the effect of any proposal.

Avoid:

  • playing the blame game.
  • accusatory statements such as “you did’;
  • saying “yes, but”. “But” wipes out anything you said before it;
  • reacting to demands or threats; and
  • making assumptions and conclusions.

Unrealistic expectations of mediation for divorce can make you feel as if you have wasted your time and money. Therefore, it is important that you understand the mediation process. If you are unsure of anything, ask your lawyer or divorce mediator.