I’ve had the chance to engage in many Divorce Mediations at JDM during the last few months. In these mediations, I’ve seen several constructive encounters in which partners, amid their difficulties, show reciprocal interest and amicability for one another. I’ve even seen some more complicated circumstances in which partners became entangled in unproductive conflict. In view of these findings, I’ve gathered the following 9 suggestions for reducing obstacles and increasing efficiency and collaboration in the mediation room. These suggestions are meant to help people contemplating mediation for their divorce or breakup properly plan for and partake in their mediation.
1. Make sure you’re ready to talk clearly.
We’ve seen it time and again in divorce mediations: members are quick to criticise the other party. Expressing anger and antagonism is an integral part of the breakup process, but there are more productive ways to do that than blaming. Blaming another one is not an acceptable way to express your needs, desires, or experiences. When you point the finger at someone else, they become defensive, and the dialogue becomes considerably more constrained. Choose to reframe instead. Reframe the fault so that what you say reflects how you feel, what you require, and how the other person’s conduct has affected you.
2. Think about your triggers and reactions.
Consider what triggers you and how you will respond if and when the other party provokes you.
• Take your own temperature and imagine how it will change depending on what the opposing party says or does during the mediation. Assume the other party approaches you and says something completely inappropriate in front of the mediator. What will your response be? Will you scream in response, be passive aggressive, or just ignore the comment? Make a deliberate judgement on how you can react to words and acts that can trigger you when you arrive at the mediation table.
• We will calm down our responses and make more honest choices about how we want to respond to various stimuli as we imagine how we want to respond emotionally to them. Your actions are entirely beyond your control. Select the route you want to take.
3. The value of time is monetary.
Time should be spent productively debating issues on which you need to reach a consensus. If you find yourself voicing your frustration and blame against the other party during your meditation period, be mindful that this is a decision you are making. It’s fine to do so; the time is yours to expend as you see fit. However, at some stage, you might want to see what you might do to reframe these offensive terms into something more positive, so that you don’t waste your time and resources.
4. Request a private consultation with the mediator.
Most divorce mediators use both joint (you, the other side, and the mediator) and private meetings (including just you and the mediator). You have the authority to request the room if you are uncomfortable, require a rest, or wish to discuss things with the mediator privately. The mediator can decide if it is necessary to hold a different conference – so you should at least recommend that as something that will be beneficial to you.
5. Make the challenge seem normal.
It’s difficult to sit across from and communicate with your partner or co-parent. Remind yourself that your complicated and complex emotions are natural. It is not guaranteed that you and your separated or divorcing partner will get along perfectly well. Divorce is difficult. Things would be difficult. Be positive with yourself and believe that things will get better.
6. Look after yourself.
Mediation meetings are usually exhausting. Plan ahead of time and set aside a few minutes that day to do something nice for yourself. Do something fun and calming right before or during your meditation, whether you have 5 or 30 minutes.
7. If you have children, enrol in a court-approved parent education curriculum as soon as possible.
Attending these court-ordered courses will potentially benefit your case, so make them a priority!
Parent education workshops teach you how to interact more amicably with your co-parent, transforming your partnership into a fruitful business-like one.
These classes look at the effects of divorce on your children. Child maintenance and mediation will take the workshops, the sooner you will learn how to be more aware and attentive to your children’s needs.
8. Gather the necessary documentation.
As divorce mediators, one of the most often asked questions is, “What can I bring with me?” We suggest taking the following documents to your first session:
• Recent salary stubs • Past W2 and/or 1099s • Certified copy of marriage certificate • A list of your properties (checking, savings, retirement, investment) and a list of your debts • A copy of your prenuptial arrangement, if one exists • Any Court filings • Any other records you believe would be useful for the mediation process
9. Recognize that you should still consult with trusted outside experts.
During the divorce proceedings, the mediator should advise you to consult with attorneys, accounting consultants, child psychologists, and other experts. The more educated you are, the more choices you will be able to make.
I hope that these suggestions will assist you in shifting your perspective so that you can interact more productively with your partner or co-parent in the mediation chamber. Arriving equipped at the negotiating table will help relieve uncertainty and maximise the ability to communicate together with the other side.
For more information on divorce mediation, call Just Divorce Mediation Services at 0161 738 1041 or Contact us here.