A Beginner's Guide to Divorce Mediation: Everything You Need to Know
- What is divorce mediation?
- What is cooperative divorce?
- How to initiate divorce and mediation
- Download your essential mediation checklist
"I want to protect my interests, but I don't want a long, messy, and expensive divorce."
Does this resonate with you? Probably. Contrary to popular belief, most people do not want to battle it out in divorce court or "lawyer up" and let a divorce attorney or judge call the shots about who gets what or where the kids live.
But what happens when you've been married for a solid amount of time and have acquired property along the way? What if one of you put your career on hold to take time to raise the kids? And now, the two of you are struggling to figure out how to divide your marital property fairly, how to split time with your minor children so no one is unhappy, and how much money one spouse should pay the other in alimony.
For these types of break-ups, divorce mediation may be the answer.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is a negotiation technique and a service you can buy to help avoid a much pricier and lengthier process: litigation in divorce court.
A mediator is a neutral third party, a person trained in dispute resolution who can sit down with the two of you (or go between the two of you in separate locations, if that's easier) to help you figure out the hard stuff. Who gets the house. Who gets primary custody of the kids. How to peacefully resolve conflicts regarding what to do with your property, children, pets, money, or whatever the issue may be.
Your mediator will work with you to figure out the answers to these tough questions. If both of you are willing to put in the effort and make some compromises, mediation is likely to succeed. You won't get everything you want, but you'll get some of the things you want. And we think that's much better (and cheaper) than placing your life before a judge and allowing them to make all the important decisions instead.
That's why we offer mediation services at Hello Divorce: To help clients figure out the hard questions related to their divorce settlement without having to pay a hefty retainer fee to a divorce lawyer and spending months waiting for various court dates.
Read about our flat-rate hourly mediation services, available via Zoom or phone, here.
If you've read a divorce resource or two on Hello Divorce, you probably know our mission: to change the conversation around divorce, making the process transparent and the experience empowering.
We offer a range of divorce plans, from a DIY plan that gives you access to our Divorce Navigator software and personalized instructions on how to file to our most comprehensive plan, Mediation, which includes five hours of mediation built into the price.
What is cooperative divorce?
This all-in-one online solution includes all the procedural divorce stuff (like preparing, filing, and processing the necessary court forms) but adds in a certified divorce mediator who facilitates a win-win divorce agreement, saving you time and $10,000s in legal fees.
But you didn't click this link to get a sales pitch, so let's move on to how we're going to set you and your spouse up for a "successful" divorce with the help of mediation.
Watch: Your Top Divorce Mediation Questions, Answered by Erin Levine
How to initiate divorce and mediation
Break the news gently
No matter how and when you break the "D" news, it's awful for both of you ... even if you both knew it was coming. It's really important how you do it. We've got some solid tips here.
Set up ground rules
You've probably done your research and know just how expensive divorce can get. You've also heard how stressful it can be. And let's face it: The last thing you want to do is air all your dirty laundry in a public courtroom. But how do you get your spouse on board with mediation?
First, see if the two of you can set up some ground rules for the divorce process. Can the two of you agree that you will only use the court as a last resort? Or that you'll only seek legal guidance from a lawyer trained in settlement (not just litigation)? The more ground rules you set in place, the more each of you will be able to manage divorce overwhelm.
Related: How to get your spouse on board with divorce mediation
It sounds deceitful, but it's not. Strategizing is a great way to make the divorce process more efficient. (Quicker is better. It's already going to take a bit longer than you expected.)
What's more, strategizing is an awesome way to feel in "control" of the process. Knowing what your best versus worst-case scenario is will definitely help you figure out what's reasonable and fair. Click the link below for tips on gathering financial info, determining your non-negotiables, and getting a self-care plan in place.
Related: Do these 6 things before you begin mediation
Increase your chance of a great result
If you're reading this divorce resource, you are likely already a few steps ahead of your spouse. Don't stop here. Review the article Tips For a Successful Mediation to help make the mediation process more productive from the start and to get a divorce mediation agreement that'll set you up for life after divorce and your next (best) chapter.
Download your essential mediation checklist
The hard truth: Mediation can be grueling. Even a skilled mediator can't protect you from all the emotional triggers that come up during the process of ending your (marital) relationship. We'll help you keep your eyes on the prize: a win-win resolution that sets you up for your next best chapter. Our 10-point checklist has the BEST tips we've learned over the last 16+ years of mediating divorces. From prep to post-divorce, we've got you covered with practical tips you can easily implement.