Mediation is a tool to help you dissolve your marriage in the smoothest way possible, to help you reach an agreement that allows both of you to move forward while reducing negative impact on your children and extended family.
How you regard mediation, and how you approach each session will greatly influence the duration and your success. So how can you prepare for mediation in a way that makes it easy for you and your partner?
Agree to Mediation
The government has stated it wants mediation to be the preferred option for contested divorces, where there are disagreements about the children or finances. Mediation works by discussing issues face to face, with a mediator present to act as sounding board and neutral advisor. Mediation works best if both parties actually want to be there.
If you feel that mediation – with its onus on both you and your spouse reaching an agreement – is not for you, you could explore the collaborative approach, where you are still discussing matters face to face, but each of the parties is supported and represented by a family lawyer.
Once you have made the decision to divorce, discuss mediation and make sure you both agree that it’s the best way forward. Discuss fees, too, and agree to make time to attend the mediation sessions. It makes the mediation process much smoother.
When you’re going through a divorce, the big issues – children, the family home, finances – are in the forefront of your mind. But then there are 1001 little details that will also need your attention and it’s not always easy to remember everything when you need to discuss it.
This is where a master list is useful, as it serves as a memory aide during your mediation sessions. Your list should include:
- real estate (family home, holiday home, rental properties, time shares)
- personal property (jewellery, books, DVDs, furniture, artwork, collectables)
- bank accounts, savings accounts
- credit cards
- investment products
- insurance policies
- Household expenses (mortgage, loans, insurance, fees, food, utilities etc.)
This master list will not just jog your memory when you try to divide your assets, it will also be useful when you are discussing your finances during your mediation sessions by giving you time to consider what is truly important to you and what you can live without.
Think about Your Children
Separation is never easy. All the resultant changes are often extra hard on your children. Your divorce will affect their lives, so it is important that your children know what is happening. If you can present a united front when you tell your children, so much the better.
Even if you are no longer together, you will still be their parents and your children need to understand that your divorce is not their fault and that you will continue to be there for them.
During your mediation sessions, we will help you reach an agreement about your children’s continued upbringing. Usual issues that need to be resolved are:
- Where the children will live / spend most of their time
- Extra-curricular activities
- School and / or college costs
- Arrangements for birthdays, Christmas etc.
Your marriage may have ended, but the continuing care for your children will require you to talk to each other for many years. If you can focus on your children’s needs during your mediation, that interaction will be much easier on both of you.
The success of your mediation sessions depends very much on how well you are prepared and how much you want it to work. If you can keep your focus, your divorce will proceed more smoothly and you will be able to move on to the next stage of your life much more quickly.
Do not under estimate how difficult it may be for you to be in the same room as your former partner discussing sensitive and emotional topics. So look after yourself, consider seeking help and support from friends and family or a specialist counsellor. In Norwich we have Julie de Ruiter www.juliederuiter.co.uk , who is trained to help separating couples