Mediation – What to Expect
I get a lot of questions from women who are nervous about mediation because they don’t know what to expect.
I understand that wanting to avoid your ex may be the reason for your anxiety, but don’t let the actual process stress you out. If you’re prepared you’ll get through it, and hopefully walk away with an agreement that will get you closer to moving on with your own fabulous life.
Here’s some basic info to help you prepare and calm your nerves:
1) Mediation is not meant to be adversarial. It is supposed to be collaborative. The purpose of mediation is to encourage you to reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement.
2) The role of the mediator is to assist you in identifying issues and help you to explore settlement options. The mediator is not there to give legal advice, even if the mediator is a lawyer. The mediator cannot make decisions for you. He or she is simply a facilitator that will help you reach an agreement.
3) Be prepared to discuss, in detail, how you want to handle:
- A parenting plan
- Distribution of your assets
- Child Support
- Any other issue that is particular to your situation
4) When it comes to a parenting plan, be prepared to discuss what you want your schedule to look like. My clients typically fill in a monthly calendar designating the days of the week that each parent will have the children. Then they detail the time and locations of pick up and drop off. Don’t forget to consider options for all school holidays, vacations, and a summer schedule. Choose which holidays you want to share with your children.
5) Each state has minimum requirements that must be included in a parenting plan. There are also many other topics that may or may not be required, but should be considered such as medical and school-related issues, residential relocation restrictions, domestic and international travel restrictions, and the right of first refusal when a parent is unable to care for the child during scheduled parenting time, among other issues. Be prepared to discuss these issues and know what your opinion is as to each matter.
6) Know that you can leave the mediation at any time. You cannot be held against your will. If your ex becomes belligerent or abusive, you can call the mediation off (although the mediator should be in control and diffuse the situation). If you are unable to reach an agreement, you can call an impasse. Even if the mediation is court ordered, as long as you show up, you have fulfilled your obligation to the court.
7) At the same time, if you can come to an agreement, it’s absolutely in your best interest to do so. It will save you time and money, and your divorce will be more amicable which is always good because you’ll likely need to communicate with your ex for years to come.
8) If you want to be in a separate room from your ex, just ask. Mediators often go back and forth between the parties to prevent arguments and facilitate an agreement.
9) If you reach an agreement, you’ll want it in writing. The mediator should draft the agreement for you to sign and submit to the court. However, if you are represented by an attorney, the attorney may prefer to draft the agreement based on the terms you reached.
10) Know what you are willing to negotiate and what you absolutely must achieve. That way, you can give in to some demands and be more likely to get yours met.
11) Have a calming tactic up your sleeve. Meditate beforehand, recite a mantra that encourages you, or count to 10 before responding to any questions.
12) Above all, don’t be afraid! Be prepared, organized and calm.
There’s no reason to be anxious if you are prepared. Don’t believe me? Check out some quotes by thinkers, leaders, and a football player.
“Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.” David Kekich
“What we prepare for is what we shall get.’ William Graham Sumner
“Success depends upon previous preparation…” Confucius
“First, I prepare. Then I have faith.” Joe Namath
Don’t be intimidated by mediation, just be prepared, organized, and calm.
You can do this, I have faith in you!