Mediation happens when a couple hires a neutral third party, often a lawyer who has received special training, to help them work out a divorce settlement. Amicable divorces are ones in which spouses try to work with each other to find the best settlement for their situation. If they cannot work together, but still desire to stay out of court repeatedly, they can hire a mediator to help them craft an agreement.
The mediator will listen to both parties and offer suggestions to make their settlement fair. Both of you need to remember that fair does not mean equal and should be prepared for a lopsided settlement. This may happen if the spouse who has primary custody of the children needs more money to help pay expenses until they find a better paying job. There are many reasons for unequal shares. If you are curious about why the mediator does something, simply ask. You have every right to know exactly what everything in your settlement means.
Your mediator will give you each a list of their recommendations. You do not have to accept them, but, if you don’t, you may end up in court fighting over details that could have been ironed out. One way to think about it is that for everything you disagree with the mediator about, you could be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. Both of you must be willing to negotiate over the details.
Even if your spouse refuses to speak to you, let him/her know you are willing to hire a mediator to help you both reach an agreement you will be happy with. If he/she still fights about it, a gentle reminder of how much money you will be saving and how much faster your divorce will be final may help them change their mind and meet with a mediator. If nothing else, point out how hard the divorce is on your children and how they need it to be friendly and quick so they can begin to heal.
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