Kate and Andrew came in for a consultation. Apparently, Andrew convinced Kate to come to the meeting ‘ just to gather information’. Shortly into the meeting, it was evident that the topic of divorce had JUST been communicated to Kate. Without having the time to process the thought of divorce, potentially seek counseling or having met with a divorce coach, Kate became filled with fear and rushed out to hire a lawyer. More than a year later, and having spent thousands on attorney's fees and hourly rate, they were finally divorced. Now, the children are in therapy and Kate and Andrew can only communicate via a smart phone app ‘called Talking Parents’. This outcome is unfortunate and unnecessary; and it shows the importance of proper preparation.
Drumroll, the two questions are:
1) Do You and Your Spouse Both Want a Divorce? If either of you is a no, it may not be the right time as beginning the process when the prospect of divorce is fresh is not a way to encourage meaningful communication.
Have you thought through how to start the conversation? It’s important because it sets the tone going forward. Figure out what your post divorce life will look like. Take the time to write it out. Work with the other person to decide on a date, time, a neutral location and ensure your children are out of earshot.
Often, when couples begin the divorce process, more often than not both,are not really ready for the divorce and this has the potential for an acrimonious divorce.
Alternatively, let’s say you want the divorce, but you are still questioning whether you can salvage the relationship. Wait until you feel the most analytical and not emotional and write out all the reasons.
In another scenario, maybe you don’t want the divorce but your spouse does. Make sure to remove any rose colored glasses and that the reality of the state of your marriage is not obscured by your hurt or fear.
2) Are You and Your Spouse Able to Peacefully and Respectfully Enter Mediation?
Both of you will never get to mediation if one or both of you doesn’t understand what mediation is and is not and what the process entails.
What is mediation? You and your soon to be ex spouse decide the outcome of your divorce, not the court or an attorney. Mediators are the neutral third party who are trained in facilitating a solution that will serve both spouses’ needs. Rather than a judge, the spouses are in control of the outcome. Mediation is significantly less expensive than choosing the traditional attorney route and because the objective is not to win but to come to a mutual agreement. Mediation
What does the mediation process entail?
Understand the logistics and timing of mediation – how many sessions will it take and how long will each session last? Remember to ask these questions in your consultation call. Any mediator who is worth considering is willing to educate you on the process and address your questions.
You might want to know what items are up for division or dispute. Have the facts to back up what things are worth.
Once you both understand what it is and what it entails, only then can you both affirmatively agree that mediation is the best choice for your post divorce family.
Make sure what you have in mind for your post divorce future is concrete and not emotional. Mediation is not the time to rehash the same old arguments you had that led you into mediation in the first place.
Whereas the conversation where you decide to divorce is best done in person (discussed more in #1) If you are more comfortable with the written word, write a letter or email to lay out what you’ve learned about mediation.
Before you step into the mediator’s office think about preparing:
· A list of your concerns
· Potential solutions to your concerns
· A list of assets, debts, and valuable personal property
· Financial documents needed to make decisions and substantiate values
Before you schedule a 90 initial consultation, be sure to have answers to whether both of you want a divorce and whether you both understand what mediation entails and that you’re entering it without any hidden agenda.
The staff at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado are prepared to answer your questions. You can reach us at (303) 468-5626.