Preparation is the key to handling your mediation.
Tip One: Be Prepared.
One of the most important tips that I can give you in order for you to have a successful mediation is to always be prepared. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of lawyers or clients who attend mediation before discovery has been completed. In your case, you will have to provide full financial disclosure to the other side. Your ex will also have to complete financial disclosure. This is a rule in every case. Without these documents (proof of income, assets, etc.) you will not be able to come to an agreement. Therefore, mediation will have been a complete waste of everyone’s time. If your dispute involves anything financial, you need to make sure that you have the correct financial documents. Neither party will be able to come to an agreement regarding alimony, division of assets and liabilities or child support if you are unable to prove your income or prove the proper value of each asset and liability. I have seen so many mediations come to an impasse because one lawyer has failed to do proper discovery. Also, be prepared with a list of what you want at mediation. Meet with your lawyer a few days before mediation to determine your strategy and what you will be requesting. Be prepared.
Tip Two: Get Ready to Compromise.
Mediation is 100% about compromise. You will not get your best day in court at mediation. Additionally, your spouse will not agree to their worst day in court at mediation. In order to be successful both you and your spouse will have to compromise on the issues. You are not going to be 100% satisfied with the agreement and neither will your spouse. However, you will have the peace of mind that comes with resolution and closure. Additionally, you and your spouse will be the one in control of your children’s future and your financial situation, instead of having a judge who is essentially a stranger make those decisions for you. Compromise, you will be glad you did.
Tip Three: Leave Emotions at the Door.
I get it. A divorce is incredibly emotional. You are probably full of anger and sadness, and rightfully so. However, in order to be successful at mediation you will have to leave the emotions at the door. You must look at this transaction as a business decision and not an emotional decision. Emotions can incredibly cloud your judgment and prevent you from making reasonable and rational decisions. Do what you can to work through your emotional issues before coming to the mediation table.
Tip Four: Be Prepared to Listen.
In order to be successful at mediation, you will have to be able to listen. Listen to what your ex is saying in the other room. Listen to the other sides perspective. I am not telling you to accept or believe the other sides perspective, but to simply listen to that perspective. You will be able to gain valuable insight into what they deem important, whether you deem it important or not. You know what motivates your spouse or ex. You, more than anyone in the room, will be able to know what is going to motivate your spouse to settle the case. Are they motivated by money? Are they motivated solely by your children’s best interest? Are they guilty for some act of indiscretion? All of these things will help you get to yes. This will help you get to a settlement agreement and ultimately get you to closure. Additionally, this goes without saying, but also listen to your lawyer. Hopefully you have hired an experienced lawyer who deals with these issues on a daily basis. Your lawyer will know when you are being reasonable. More importantly, your lawyer will know when you are being unreasonable. If your lawyer tells you that you are unreasonable, then listen. Listen and adjust your position. Your lawyer, more than anyone, has your best interest in mind. Your lawyer will know when you are wasting time fighting over something that will not matter in the end. Listen to your spouse’s perspective and listen to your lawyer’s advice.
If you have any questions related to mediation, or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law, you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].