Divorce can be a delicate situation, particularly when there are children involved. In some cases, you may wish to settle your affairs out of the scope of the courts. After all, you know your spouse and family situation better than any judge does, so it makes sense you try to settle the details, yourselves, if possible. One of the most common ways Californians attempt to settle their divorce out of court is through the use of mediation. A mediator is simply a neutral third party who can work with you and your spouse to divide your assets as you see fit. Mediation can be a time and money-saving option in certain circumstances.
Take a look at what makes mediation a good option and when it’s time to move on to other avenues, like arbitration or litigation.
Desired Traits for Mediation
Mediation is only successful when both parties have the same basic goal in mind: to split amicably and fairly. If one party goes into a mediation thinking it’s entitled to more, the attempt will likely fail. There are a few essential tenets that both parties should possess to encourage a successful negotiation:
- To efficiently come to a compromise, both parties must possess the capability to be completely open about their needs and wants. It’s important to think of mediation as an open exchange of information, but not as a forthright airing of grievances. Be able to effectively communicate what you want out of a settlement, and try to keep your emotions in check.
- You’re likely not going to get everything you feel you deserve in a quick go-around. To ensure the best outcome, you need to be prepared for a possible long haul. Don’t try to rush the proceedings because you think it’ll lead to the outcome you want.
- This is the biggest factor in a successful mediation. Before you even consider this route, consult with your divorce attorney and decide whether or not you’re willing to make compromises when it’s necessary. If you aren’t willing to budge on the issues, you should skip immediately to litigation and save yourself the time.
- It doesn’t help the situation to come into mediation without an idea of what you want. Speak with your attorney ahead of time about what’s most important to you, and consider what kind of ammunition you have to get what you want. Again, it’s important to rely on facts, not emotions, to make these kinds of negotiations work.
When It’s Time to Give In (And Litigate)
While mediation may seem like the most cost-effective and private option, it’s important to know when it’s not working for your situation. Keep an eye out for these red flags that signal when it may be time to turn to more aggressive methods:
- Your partner shows no signs of compromising. Even if you’re patient and persistent, your negotiations will come to a crashing halt if your partner shows no willingness to budge. For mediation to truly work, both parties need to be committed to a fair solution, even if you aren’t getting everything you want. If you think your partner is being unjust or bull-headed, it may be time to explore other avenues, like getting a judge involved.
- You’re concerned about the safety of yourself or your children. If you’re a victim of domestic abuse or you fear for the well-being of your children, you can’t be reasonably expected to sit across the table and negotiate with someone who brings you alarm or pain. In these types of cases, it’s best to bring the case in front of a judge who can protect all vulnerable parties involved.