Common Mistakes During Mediation That Can Affect Your Divorce
When going through a divorce, it can be challenging to come to an optimum conclusion for all parties involved, the spouses and the children, because of the emotional aspect of a divorce. Mediation helps spouses resolve issues that will finalize your divorce efficiently and cost-effectively, keeping emotions at bay.
Celebrity couples such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have used mediation services in their divorces to settle issues to the satisfaction of both parties while keeping their affairs private. In addition, the mediation services prevented costly and time-consuming hearings in which both parties may not have been satisfied with the results.
The Different Types of Mediation Services Available
Spouses can access different kinds of neutral mediation services for the mediation of property division, child custody or visitation, or child or spousal support issues.
Court Sponsored Mediation
In California, mediation is mandatory if spouses cannot agree on the child custody arrangement or a visitation schedule, and domestic abuse is not a factor. This mandatory mediation only discusses legal and physical custody of the child and visitation times. There are no discussions about child support, spousal support, or evidence against the other parent.
Mediators appointed to help you have a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field and have at least two years of experience working in mental health. The mediator will create a parenting plan in the children’s best interest and guarantee time with both parents. The mediators can also help with dealing with anger and resentment. If an agreement cannot be made between the spouses in mediation, the judge will make the final decision at the hearing. However, the judge will sign the agreed-upon order if an agreement is made.
In addition to child custody or visitation schedules, nonprofit mediation services are available in the community if mediation help is needed with other aspects of your divorce, such as property division and spousal or child support. Organizations like the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) or OC Human Relations can offer divorce mediation services for little or no cost because nonprofit programs or donations provide funds.
Whether you hire a private mediation service or an individual mediator, this type of mediation will help with all the issues you may have during a divorce, no matter how complex. However, it can be expensive depending on how complex the problems are, the mediator’s rate and professional background, and the willingness of both spouses to use the service to their advantage and make compromises. Still, it is less expensive than going through divorce hearings and ending with unsatisfied results.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation
Mediation can be helpful in some divorce situations but may not be in others. Therefore, although it has significant advantages, this may not be the right service for every divorce.
Advantages of Mediation
- Mediation provides help in negotiating complex issues.
- The parties have more control over the outcome.
- It is less expensive than going to court.
- Divorces are resolved faster.
- Since both spouses may gain results that they’re both satisfied with, this may improve a post-divorce relationship.
Disadvantages of Mediation
- Attorneys will not be present to negotiate on behalf of spouses.
- Mediation is more expensive than a DIY divorce.
- The process will not be helpful for spouses who refuse to compromise or settle.
Communicating Effectively in Mediation
There are ways of preparing for a mediation process that will help communicate needs effectively while making the most of the time allotted, resulting in a successful conclusion for both spouses. When preparing for a mediation session, gather documents and organize lists of subjects to be discussed. The list of topics that may be needed to be addressed at the session can include the following:
- Property and debt division
- Spousal support
- Child custody
- Child support
- Retirement accounts
- Insurance coverage
- What happens when a spouse doesn’t honor the agreement
- Any additional issues affecting the family
Documents that might be important to have during the session are:
- Court documents
- Financial statements
- List of assets, debts, and property
Preparing for important issues and gathering supporting documentation will help communicate the desired results. Once the communication process starts during the mediation session, let the mediator do their job. The mediator will help the spouses maintain emotional distances and process intense reactions when discussing issues. The mediator will also help rephrase statements if one or both spouses have problems constructively verbalizing their thoughts. Avoid name-calling and rude comments while communicating during the mediation process.
Avoiding Impulsive Decisions During Divorce Mediation
Do not make emotionally charged decisions when going through divorce mediation. For example, don’t decide to run up credit cards out of anger or move out of the home because of distress. Instead, always consider how a decision will impact long-term goals rather than provide instant or short-term gratification.
Common Mistakes People Make During Divorce Mediation
While court hearings are for arguing and battles, mediation is for negotiation and compromise. One of the most common mistakes people make is not knowing the difference between the two. Mediation will only work if the spirit of wanting a fair outcome for all parties is present.
Another common mistake people make is focusing on their needs rather than the children’s needs during divorce mediation. The children’s best interest has to be a higher priority than anything else during the mediation process.
One more mistake people make is showing up to the mediation process unprepared to present plans and solutions that will help facilitate the divorce with satisfactory results. For example, if the other spouse has concerns about a negotiating point, preparation is required to address those concerns.
Divorces Can Have a Happy Ending for All Involved With Mediation
Even though divorce may be inevitable, there are ways that can help make the process easier and with satisfactory results for all parties involved, especially the children. Mediation can help make that happen as long as long-term gains are desired for everybody in the family after the divorce.