For most people divorce is an unknown and unfamiliar process. No matter how much reading you do on the subject you can not prepare yourself for the process. As divorce lawyers we know that every couple is different and that family law can throw up all sorts of surprises and unique situations.
There is a lot less written about mediation than there is about traditional court divorces. Peaceful mediation cases rarely make the news or become highlighted as example cases. Therefore it is even more difficult to prepare yourself for this process.
However, if you want to make the most out of mediation you do have to be prepared and go in with realistic expectations of the process.
Not the soft option
Mediation is not the soft option for divorce. It is easier than the courts as it is a simpler process and you retain much more control, however you can not just waltz in and have all your demands met. It is a real process that you and your ex have to go through that takes work, commitment and dedication. You will not regret it, but do not expect it to be easy.
Be prepared to listen
Mediation is about both parties having their say and coming to mutual decisions. For this to happen you must be prepared to listen to your spouse and let them talk. You may not agree with them, your mediator may not agree with them, but listening to their point of view in a rational manner is essential. You will have your turn to talk too and by offering your ex respect you are more likely to receive it in return.
Be prepared to learn
During mediation you will have to learn to communicate openly and rationally with your ex. Depending on the nature of the divorce, this may be easier said than done. However, the process will not work if you do not do this. It will leave you in a much better place by the end and help you to negotiate in the future and come to your own decisions.
Come out stronger
Working through the details of your divorce amicably and out of the courts will give you confidence and you will both come out of the process feeling stronger than if you have been battling with the courts. If you focus on the end goal of good and fair settlements and a fair deal for your children you will come out being able to communicate and recognise when you need more help.