3 Tips for Mediating Your Divorce
By: Ronald Reinstein MBA, CDFA Senior Wealth Manager Reinstein Wealth Management & The Financial Guys
Mediation allows separating and divorcing couples to take control of planning their own lives and make good decisions about their future. The decision-making process learned in mediation can serve as a model for future communications among the spouses. Mediation does have its ups and downs too. Here are three tips to help you get through your mediation proceeding.
1. Play the Cards YOU Have Dealt Yourself.
Often, I hear “You would think that this would be the one time he/she would be trying to get along!” or “My husband/wife has always been [pick one and or all of the following adjectives: controlling, demanding, greedy, absent, etc] it would nice for him/her to change this one time so we are able to get through this!”(This description is also applicable for most divorce proceedings)
I encourage clients to consider the circumstances that they are dealing with when they wonder why they are engaging in the same battles yet again.
If your soon to be ex-husband/ex-wife was controlling or unresponsive to conflict before the divorce, there is a high probability that it is not going to change during the divorce proceedings. Neither party may not show it, but this is perhaps one of the most stressful times each of you will ever experience. Under times of stress we tend to revert to what we know best, even if these behaviors are counter intuitive and nonproductive. Human nature typically has us resorting to our behaviors that have been with us the longest when we are under pressure.
Please take a step back and reflect on all the times that your spouse dealt with conflict while you have known them. This will help you prepare yourself to negotiate as your expectations will be based on reality, not wishful thinking.
2. “Here comes the Judge and Your Spouse IS the Judge!”
If your divorce ever ended up in court, would you be disrespectful, aggressive, irrational, unreasonable, or manipulative with the judge when presenting your wishes? I certainly would hope not! You want the judge to understand your situation from your perspective and to agree with the case you are presenting. Do you think being aggressive in court would help you achieve this objective? When you’re in mediation session, use the same decorum when speaking to your spouse as you would a judge! It will not help either party trying to bully one another to get to a resolution in the manner!
Remember going through mediation, there are EXACTLY two decision makers. Your spouse and yourself. The mediator doesn’t cast the tie breaking vote, because they can’t vote! There must be a unanimous vote for every decision that needs to be made. Approach your soon to be ex as you would with a judge. Be respectful, thoughtful, and reasonable with to each other and you will have a much higher probability to negotiate a successful settlement.
3. Friends are There for Support. Seek Reliable Information from the Professionals
Our world today, information has never been so accessible. As a result, it may be hard to decipher which information is accurate.
Never underestimate the power of knowledge and education. Having knowledge that is needed allows us to come from a position of strength, not weakness to help us make the best decision possible. If you are reading or hearing the wrong information because you feel it relates to your situation this will work against you. It may build false expectations on how you perceive things “should” come out. On the other hand, you may have apprehension to broach a subject because the outcome that you have read (child support, child custody, spousal support and or alimony, division of marital property, etc) was not favorable. The information that you have just obtained on the surface you felt it applies to your situation. However, this may not be the case!
What I am saying is that not all divorces are the same!
There is a reason why friends are our friends. They will be on your side if we are right or wrong. They will be there for support regardless of our position or how much fault we are at for creating the current situation. Friends probably are not going to be the most reliable resource for facts, legal advice, and objectivity. Just because your friend told you something that happened to them during their divorce or they know someone who knows someone and that person’s cousin had this or that happen to them, does not mean their situation mirrors yours! Every case and scenario may have a different outcome. Your outcome has been predetermined based off your college roommate’s 2nd cousins divorce from two years ago.
What is the solution here? Rely on the Internet carefully (looking at you Wikipedia!) Rely on friends for support. Have a great team of professionals assembled such as divorce attorneys, Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, and mediators to help you make decisions from a position of strength that comes from their knowledge and expertise.