Divorce does not have to turn into a brawl. Instead, squabbling couples can eventually work toward an agreement on critical issues like child custody and division of marital property through the mediation process. At its simplest, mediation involves two parties and their lawyers meeting with a third-party neutral, the mediator. The mediator helps each side listen to each other and work toward common goals. Although the mediator can propose ways to solve disagreements, each side is ultimately free to disregard the mediator’s advice and go to trial.
When approached in good faith, mediation can speed up a divorce, reduce tension, and save you money. Our Galveston & League City divorce lawyer offers the following tips.
Get in the Right Frame of Mind
The essence of mediation is compromise. If you could get everything that you wanted, then you wouldn’t find yourself in mediation. The reality is that you don’t know how a judge will decide child custody or another issue, so it’s risky to go to trial. Mediation can help you arrive at a solution that works for you. You might not get everything—but you’ll get enough out of the divorce to make settlement worthwhile.
Consider child custody. Your dream might be to have the children for 10 months out of the year that they are in school, while they spend 2 months during the summer with your ex. But that might not be possible. If all you do is dig in and refuse to compromise, mediation is a waste of time.
Set Priorities before Attending
Although mediation requires some give and take, there’s no reason to automatically cave in and give your spouse whatever he or she wants. Instead, you will need to negotiate. And negotiation requires having priorities before going in.
For example, when it comes to marital property, you might absolutely want the house. However, you might have to give something up of equivalent size to get it. Consequently, you might decide you can give up some of your retirement account. By setting priorities—I want the house before the retirement account—you make bargaining easier in mediation.
Put Your Emotions to the Side
It is amazingly easy to turn mediation into a venting session. Unfortunately, now is not the time to revisit why your marriage failed. The mediator also isn’t terribly interested that your spouse cheated on you or forgot your birthday 5 years running. Leave the emotional baggage at home.
This is easier said than done. However, you can attend mediation with a lawyer. We help our clients stay on track and remain focused on the issues.
Walk Away, if Necessary
To compromise, you might need to bend—but you shouldn’t break. It also takes two to compromise. If you believe your spouse is being unreasonable, you might need to take your chances in court. Sometimes, by walking away, we show the other side we mean business.
Call Tad Nelson & Associates
Our family law attorneys are available to meet for a consultation. Contact us today to discuss your possible divorce, mediation, or other family law issue.