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Is Mediation Right For You?

One of the most difficult things to do during a divorce is to disregard the urgings of well-meaning friends and family to get the toughest, meanest, lawyer around, and to instead consider mediation. Nearly everyone has something to say about how to achieve a divorce. However, because each divorce is unique, well-meaning people can do a great disservice by giving advice that, in many cases,, is based on their own divorce experience or stories heard about the divorce of others. Dignity has a far better chance of surviving when a divorcing couple can keep the influences of others to a minimum and focus on how they want their divorce to proceed. The essence of mediation is shared decision-making. For mediation to be effective, both parties must be willing and able to exercise decision-making power.

Both spouses must be willing to set aside old patterns of decision-making and, even if this is a new approach for them, become informed and willing to share the decision-making power in a balanced and equitable way.

For some this means learning to be patient while the other spouse becomes informed enough to be part of the decision-making process. For others, it means coming to accept the fact that they must take responsibility for their future and decrease their dependence on their former spouse.

In divorce, as in other areas of life, how individuals act is a reflection of their values. Mediation enables the expression of the highest of human values: respect, caring, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, openness, gentleness, compassion. All of these and more can be expressed during divorce, even in the presence of anger, fear, and pain. Keep in mind that when friends urge you to get "a good lawyer" or "take everything you can get," their intentions may be good, but the advice may be bad. Take time to examine with them why they suggest this approach. Then quietly look inside yourself to discover what you want, both now and in the future. It is your marriage, your divorce, your future.

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Before the divorce is final, the court may issue temporary orders to deal with immediate problems, such as conservatorship, possession, child support, and spousal support/alimony. Temporary orders can say who will live in the home, who will be able to write checks on the bank accounts, and who will have control of the children up until the divorce is final and permanent orders are put in place. In most cases, depending on the court, the spouses will be ordered to mediation prior to any hearing on temporary orders. Mandatory mediation helps lessen the case load at the court and helps the parties resolve issues without a court ruling.
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