As mediation is becoming a more popular tool and approach to marital dissolution, the advantages of saving money and being your own decision maker are more widely known. But what next? What if you still can’t get your spouse to agree to mediation. Below are some tips for discussing the topic with your spouse both before and during your pitch.
First, you want to ensure that the mood is right. Don’t bring up the topic in the middle of an argument. Practice bringing up the topic of mediation to a friend before discussing it with your spouse. Or, better yet, if you have an attorney involved have them suggest mediation so your spouse won’t automatically be inclined to dismiss the option simply because it was your idea.
Secondly, have a handful of responses to common hesitations your spouse might have. For instance, if your spouse is worried that the mediator will be biased on your behalf, come up with a list of criteria for choosing a mediator together or allow your spouse to pick a mediator of their own choosing. Sometimes it works best for you to “take turns” suggesting two or three mediators’ names to one another, so that one party doesn’t think a biased mediator is being selected.
Thirdly, if your spouse is hesitant to pay for a mediator when you already have attorneys, remind them that mediators will help you save money and time in the long run. Mediation is successful a majority of the time, thereby eliminating the need to pay attorneys for multiple court appearances and reviewing the numerous legal documents that accompany each visit to the court. With the current backlogs in the court system, mediation can save thousands in legal fees.
Additionally, if the other party fears that sitting in a room together to talk about sensitive subjects will be too painful, have them think about how painful it will be to sit in a public courtroom on opposing sides while not speaking at all.
Lastly, if you have both tried counseling and it has failed, point out the differences between mediation and your former counseling appointments. Counseling involves rehashing a lot of difficult situations you have been through in your marriage (the problem) whereas the only topics relevant in mediation are about what to do moving forward. Focus on solutions!
Authored by IRWIN & IRWIN.
IRWIN & IRWIN Family Law is located in Fullerton and Newport Beach, California. We provide a full suite of family law services from divorce litigation, divorce mediation, child custody issues, domestic violence restraining orders and representing minors in court. “Every situation is different, and some come with very complex financial issues. Our legal team is here to support you during a very troubling time and prepare you for court, or to at least help negotiate or mediate the issues out to establish an equitable legal resolution,” says Kelly Irwin, Senior Litigator at the firm.