I know. It’s an oxymoron–nobody wants a divorce to begin with, so how could a divorce be good? There are a lot of ways to make the best of the situation when you’re faced with a divorce.
I’ve been a divorce lawyer for 22 years, and expert on what works best for both parties when you’re getting divorced. As a divorcee myself, I perfected a personal “what works” that helps people navigate the often rough waters of divorce.
When you’re faced with a divorce or other family law case (custody, support, domestic partnership, cohabitation), you have the maximum opportunity for success in resolving everything to the best benefits through mediation.
This might sound somewhat self-interested, since I’m a full time family law mediator….but I became a mediator after giving up a very high paying divorce lawyer job because I felt it was more important to be part of the solution, and not encourage the fighting that often characterizes divorce. I traded my fancy car for a 2002 Honda Accord, and 11 years later it’s still fulfilling helping families through this difficult life transition of divorce.
Diana Mercer, Mediator
Here’s how it works:
In mediation, you and your spouse or partner work with a neutral, unbiased professional. This is more often a lawyer, a therapist trained in mediation, or someone with both legal and counseling expertise. The job of the mediator in your family law case is to help you settle your differences, from cars and furniture to parenting plans for children, financial support and sharing of retirement accounts.
When considering a family law or divorce mediator, look around. Mediator styles vary. Ask your prospective mediator if a free orientation or initial consultation is available. Take time to decide what type of mediator might work best for your personal circumstances. This is an intensely personal process, so you should seek a personal connection with your chosen mediator. Find a mediator anywhere in the United States on www.mediate.com (search by area code).
A mediator’s style might include:
* Making suggestions
* Informing you about legal provisions
* Relating what others have done in your situation
* Defining your options
* Helping you consider alternative ways to resolve your problem
* Facilitating communication
* Ensuring the divorce discussion is balanced, productive, and respectful
* Writing down agreements in a cogent, easy-to-follow way
* Guiding you through court paperwork (or doing it for you)
* Mentoring your staying on task and finishing discussions, because when discussions grow difficult, it’s tempting to just change the subject.
Not all mediators do all these things, so use this list as your own list of questions when considering a mediator in a divorce proceeding.