Is your marriage over? Are you going through a divorce and feel like you need some help with the mediation stage?
Fortunately for you, you’ve come to the right place. Divorce is never easy for either party, and for any child involved. If not handled well, divorce proceedings can get very ugly, very fast. Regardless of what has led to the divorce, you must try your level best to resolve dispute as amicably as possible so you can move on with your life.
If you’re not keen on going to court, it is possible to settle things out of court with the help of a mediator. We’ve put together some tips for divorce mediation which we hope will help you and your partner wrap up things in a mature way.
1. Know the Mediator
All divorce mediations require a neutral third-party known as a mediator. The mediator’s role is to aid in negotiating a settlement and help you and your partner talk through the difficult matters and find solutions. The mediator will also act as a witness when you finally sign the mediation agreement. For these reasons, it is important that the mediator chosen is someone trustworthy, someone with experience, and whom both parties feel comfortable with.
This is why knowing the mediator beforehand should be an important part of your divorce mediation preparation. If at any point during the divorce mediation you don’t feel satisfied about anything, you can walk away and contest in court. A mediator should never intimidate any party, and if you feel intimidated, walk away.
2. Don’t Proceed Without Your Lawyer’s Consent
Legal counsel is something you cannot and must not ignore. It is wise to get your lawyer to review the proposed mediation agreement before signing it because when both sides sign the document, the agreement becomes legally binding. Your lawyer will be able to read between the lines and understand the legal jargon that you might find difficult to comprehend.
You should not sign the mediation agreement without reading through it personally and without discussing it with your lawyer because the mediation agreement may involve complex issues such as child custody, property, spousal support, and child maintenance, among other key issues.
3. Never Opt for a Lawyer-Mediator
One of the most important mediation divorce tips is that a mediator must be an authentic, neutral third party. It is preferable if the mediator is not a lawyer because lawyers are in the habit of conducting separate confidential meetings which reduces the chances of complete impartiality.
Even if the lawyer is completely impartial, one of the spouses, sooner or later, may feel wronged and believe that the other party has received legal counsel from the very same lawyer-mediator in order to obtain a better settlement. Consulting a personal lawyer while going through the mediation process is advisable, but asking a lawyer to be the mediator is completely different and should be avoided.
4. Can’t Force a Mediation Agreement
It’s important to know that no one can force someone else to sign a mediation agreement. If you feel pressured, bullied or intimidated into signing, know that it’s against the law. A mediation agreement is legally binding, and forcing someone to sign a document that they have no desire to sign, or a document that is not in their best interests, is manipulative and deceptive.
5. Think About What Is in Your Children’s Best Interests
Divorce isn’t always amicable depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. If this is the case and you harbor resentment towards your ex, it is possible that you might want to use the children to retaliate and hurt them by denying them visiting rights or even by wanting full custody.
However, you need to set aside your personal feelings where it concerns the children. No child should be deprived of the opportunity to visit with either parent unless the parent is abusive or may hurt the child somehow. Make decisions that are in the best interests of your child or children. Where it concerns the children, put your personal vendettas and agendas aside and be mature enough to be civil.
6. Finally, Never Sign a Copy Unless You Read It Completely
After reaching a mediation agreement, you must carefully go through the final copy before signing it. Sometimes, the attorney of the other party changes the wordings, expressions, or even omit or expand a point or two. To avoid confusion, don’t forget to read the final document at least once, and have your lawyer look over the document as well before signing it.
Divorce is already difficult enough without complicating it unnecessarily. If you’ve opted to use the help of a mediator and get an out-of-court mediation agreement, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind.