Article written by Atifha Aftab, Solicitor, Family
When couples decide to divorce or end a civil partnership, mediation can greatly assist. The role of the mediator is to act as an independent body and assist both parties to reach agreements on money, property and children. In this article, we look at 8 tips for successful mediation during divorce.
1 – Have your offer ready
We suggest having an offer ready, even if you feel the other side will make the first offer. Your time with the mediator is valuable time so don’t waste it by checking emails or looking up information. Being prepared will stand you in good stead. If you receive an offer, focus your time on your counter-offer and utilise the time with the mediator to concentrate on determining what would be considered a fair split of your assets.
2 – Listen to your mediator
Your mediator is trained and will typically know what it is going to take to settle your case. The mediator is there to listen to both sides and ascertain what is important to you both individually. The mediator can be an invaluable resource, but they cannot provide legal advice. That’s where a family solicitor can assist.
3 – Have your documents ready
When separating, evidence of separation agreements and values, including verification of income, are crucial. Ensure you can demonstrate the accuracy of financial information and that both sides are working with the same set of values. This will also allow you to gain the trust of the other side and help to facilitate constructive settlement discussions.
4 – Be tolerant
Mediation is about compromise. You may start at one end of the spectrum, but the final outcome may be far from that point. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, take a break to clear your head to allow yourself to be in the right mindset to reach a compromise that works for you both.
5 – Think ahead and problem solve
As family lawyers, we are aware of the stress being faced by our clients. They are likely to feel anxious and nervous. We will work with you to offer solutions to the problems being faced and ensure guidance and advice is on hand, as and when it is required.
6 – Make time constraints known from an early stage
When you attend a mediation session, we would advise you to inform all parties in advance if you have time constraints, for example, if you need to leave by a particular time. Time constraints are not a problem if people are aware of them before the mediation is scheduled.
7 – Trust your mediator
It is important to trust your mediator. Mediators are selected based on experience and a particular skillset. They are unbiased and there to listen and advise, as necessary.
8 – Understand the interests of both parties
If you fail to identify the other party’s interests, you will not be able to negotiate effectively. It is important to gain an understanding of what it will take to ensure they settle. Having a clear understanding of what your ex-partner wants, particularly when children are involved, will ensure you are in the best position to reach an agreement that both you and your ex-partner are content with.