When you and your spouse agree that it might be time to consider a divorce, you’ll discover that there are a number of different routes available for you to choose from. Divorce doesn’t automatically have to be about stressful litigation – it can be something that you come to terms about collaboratively, with the use of mediation. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to help you sort out existing problems regarding the financial results of your divorce, or what needs to be done about child custody and parenting time. Unfortunately, just because one spouse decides that mediation may be the right call for their divorce needs – doesn’t mean that the other spouse will agree.
Sometimes, simply broaching the topic of mediation with caution and patience is a good way to get started in encouraging your spouse to agree to an alternative form of dispute resolution. After all, divorce is easily one of the most uncomfortable experiences a person can go through. Although you might be getting a divorce, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be mindful and respectful of the other person’s feelings.
Approaching the Topic on Neutral Ground
A good way to encourage a reluctant spouse to reconsider the option of mediation, is to approach the subject from a position that is important to both of you. For example:
- Consider the Children
Make sure that your spouse understands that through mediation, you can reduce some of the discomfort typically associated with aggressive court-based battles and litigation. This can be beneficial to the future relationships that both of you maintain with your children. What’s more, throughout the mediation process, you will both be in control of any decisions made about the support and parenting of your children – meaning that you can work together to fashion an agreement that works for both of you.
- Consider the Money
If you don’t have children to think about, then there’s no doubt that you have financial needs. Of the various processes that can be used for divorce, mediation is often the most economically reasonable and expeditious. Let your spouse know that reconsidering divorce mediation could save both of you cash in comparison to costly processes like litigation battles.
- Consider the Time
Finally, divorce is something that people want to get over and done with as quickly as possible. Informing your spouse that the mediation process is measured in hours instead of months or years could be enough to push him or her into trying something new. The less time you spend battling over decisions, the more time you can put into creating your new life.
When Proposing Mediation
Maintaining the correct frame of mind when proposing the idea of mediation to your spouse is incredibly important. During a divorce procedure, the people involved can become highly agitated and emotional, and this can lead to a difficulty to communicate. However, I have found that if one spouse shows that they are willing to take the point of view of the other into account – mediation can be far easier to accomplish.
Perhaps the best way to suggest mediation to a spouse as an alternative form of dispute resolution, is to provide them with a detailed, and intelligent explanation of what the process entails, and what they can expect from the process. The more your spouse knows about the idea, the less opposed they may be to it. After all, no-one wants to feel as though they’re getting the short end of the straw. This doesn’t necessarily mean patronizing your spouse for their lack of knowledge regarding the matter, but instead trying to offer an insight into why you think that mediation is a good idea for both of you. Try to avoid drawing too much attention to how the process benefits you specifically – as your spouse is likely to have his or her best interests in mind.
If your spouse still refuses the idea of mediation, don’t attempt to threaten or push them into the idea, as mediation needs to be a collaborative and voluntary process for everyone involved. Instead, ask what concerns your spouse has about the concept of mediation, and try to put their fears at rest. Alternatively, give the matter some time to settle and try again later. Divorce is a highly complicated time in anyone’s life, and it may be that your original proposal of mediation was offered at the wrong time – before your spouse had a time to think all of their options through properly.
Getting a Consultation
Mediation is a great way to save time and money during the divorce process, while minimizing the amount of interaction you need to have with courts and judges. If your partner remains unsure about the idea after you have attempted to bring the proposal to him or her from various different angles, then you could always suggest arranging for a free initial consultation with a mediator. I offer free consultations, up to a half hour, to both sides together, interested in mediation so that they can learn more about the process and get a feel for what they can expect. In many cases, this free consultation will help people to figure out whether they’re comfortable with the concept of mediation, and my ability to help them through the process.
Free initial consultations allow spouses to find out more about the mediation process, and speak to a professional about their concerns, without making any commitments or spending any money, and sometimes this can be enough to turn someone’s opinion around. No one approach will work for everyone. The foregoing is simply some thoughts that may or may not work for you.
If you’re interested in using mediation as a way to settle disputes during divorce, or other family law matters, please reach out to me, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro to schedule your free initial consultation together with your spouse. You can get in touch via our online form, or over the phone at 516-333-6555.