Couples heading for divorce do not always land in court. People are beginning to realize that ending their marriage doesn’t have to be an expensive, lengthy, painful process- or even take place in a courtroom. For those who wish to forego a courtroom battle, mediation is a more amicable and peaceful way of resolving a divorce. Through mediation, spouses can participate in decision-making and come to mutually agreed-upon solutions, saving them money and time compared to traditional litigation.
In the over 25 years as an attorney in NJ, who specializes as a mediator, I have seen plenty of mistakes that couples make during mediation. Knowing these mistakes ahead of time — and how to avoid them — is the best way to begin your divorce mediation on the right foot.
HERE 8 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN IN DIVORCE MEDIATION:
EXPECTING TO “WIN”
Entering mediation sessions with the mindset that it’s you versus them and expecting there to be a winner can be a mistake. Mediation is not about winning and losing; it is about finding fair solutions cooperatively. Come in with a productive mindset to negotiate, compromise, and work together to start mediation on the right foot.
NOT KNOWING YOUR GOALS
You must determine what you want. When emotions are running high, your opinion of your former spouse can be at an all-time low, and that’s when it can become surprisingly easy to find yourself fighting like crazy to keep a hold of assets you may not want. Make a prioritized list of what you “really want” to come away with, and avoid cutting off your nose to spite your face.
FAILING TO COMMUNICATE
Communication is vital in mediation. You must be willing to express your needs and concerns clearly and listen to your spouse's perspective. If you're uncomfortable speaking directly to your spouse, the mediator can help facilitate the conversation. However, it's essential to be willing to communicate openly and honestly to reach a successful resolution.
MAKING EMOTIONAL DECISIONS
It can be tempting to use mediation to punish your spouse or seek revenge, but this is not the purpose of mediation. Making decisions based on logic rather than emotion is essential. The goal is to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that benefits both parties and any children INVOLVED.
FAILING TO COMPROMISE
Mediation is all about compromise. Both parties must be willing to give up some things to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. If one party is unwilling to compromise, mediation will likely be unsuccessful. It's essential to be flexible and open to creative solutions that meet the needs of both parties.
REFUSING TO COMPROMISE OVER THE LITTLE THINGS
Some components of your divorce are worth fighting for, but many small details bog people down. You may become exhausted if you find yourself arguing over small assets and details. These arguments are often blown out of proportion, wasting time and money. Compromise saves many headaches and a great deal of conflict.
TREATING MEDIATION LIKE LITIGATION
It’s essential to remember that this is not a courtroom, and your mediator is not a judge. Attempting to prove who is right and wrong is simply a waste of time for everyone involved. The mediator’s job is to be a neutral party and help you find a mutually agreeable resolution, not determine who deserves what. Treating your mediation like litigation is the surest way to ensure you end up before a judge.
FORGETTING THE BEST INTERESTS OF YOUR CHILDREN
Stress can sometimes put us on the offensive. If you have children, it is essential always to keep their best interests top of mind. Remember that you are attempting to plan your future and your child’s future and that your decisions should be based on what is best for both of you in the long run, not just what feels right now.
At Van Tassel Law, I believe in a kinder approach to life's legal issues.
Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your mediation is as productive and helpful as possible while minimizing the possibility of hostility and aggression between you and your spouse.
If you are concerned about other aspects of mediation, I have extensive experience handling mediation in divorce cases and can answer any questions you might have.
Feel free to contact me at (201) 664-8566.