Although a divorce always has the potential to involve some uncomfortable discussions, choosing mediation can help reduce any unpleasantness and ensure the most beneficial outcome for everyone. Here are three steps to take in order to get the process started on the right foot.
1. Decide if this is truly the best choice for your situation (and get your spouse on board)
In order for a mediated divorce to work, you have to not only have a relatively amicable relationship with your spouse still, but you also need to be in a place emotionally where you don't automatically disagree with everything they say. The mediated divorce process requires you both to make compromises in order to achieve a fair settlement without involving the court. This means not everything can go your way and not everything can go your spouse's way. If you're not comfortable with being part of the decision-making process in this situation, you may not be emotionally able to participate in a mediated divorce. And your spouse needs to be ready to participate amicably as well in order for the process to work.
2. Find the right people to help you through the process
In addition to finding a reputable, well-trained, and highly-rated mediator, you need to consider whether you'll have lawyers involved in the process. The mediator is, by definition, a neutral third party, and not able to give legal advice to either you or your spouse because that could be construed as taking sides. So, once you've agreed on the right mediator, discuss with your spouse whether you'll each have a lawyer or not and whether the lawyers will be present at the mediation sessions.
3. Prepare your thoughts and documents for the mediation sessions
You'll need to think deeply about which parts of the settlement are the most important to you. Are you willing to bargain away the material assets you and your spouse share, but unwilling to part with the dog? Is custody of the children your main concern? Write out any concerns you want to bring up during the mediation session so that you don't accidentally let the entire session go by without mentioning them. You'll also need to make sure you have financial documents prepared so the mediator can help you and your spouse go through them and decide on a fair settlement.
These three steps will help you get ready for the process of a mediated divorce. Remember to analyze your own situation carefully before choosing this avenue; if there's any possibility that physical, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse is involved, mediated divorce is not the answer and you need to get yourself and your children out of the situation right away.
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