Choosing to separate from your spouse can be one of the most difficult decisions a couple can face. And unfortunately, the challenges do not stop once that decision is made. For many couples, separating means months of figuring out how to financially support the process of divorce. Traditional divorce litigation can be emotionally and mentally draining as well as prohibitively expensive. This is why many couples decide to separate via mediation instead. But in cases where one member of a couple wants mediation and the other member is unsure, it can be tricky to communicate the reasons why mediation would be more effective. Here are a few things to consider when talking to your spouse about mediation.
Have Your Points Prepared
Generally, the best way to communicate with your partner is to be prepared in advance with the points you want to make. Although you might not need to be an expert on the topic of mediation it is helpful to have answers to frequently asked questions about mediation. Many people will wonder how much mediation costs compared to traditional litigation, or if a mediated separation is as legally valid as a traditional divorce. One recommendation is to have a mediator in mind, or resources that you and your partner can share. If you already know a mediator, ask if the mediator would be comfortable answering your partner’s questions. It may be more effective for your partner to get their answers from either a mediator or another resource than from you. Mediators exist to support both parties as well as a common resolution. It is important for your partner to understand that a mediator is not specifically on “one person’s side.”
Separation is not an easy period in anyone’s life. Lack of communication, distrust, and anger are all common elements for couples planning to separate. These factors can make it harder for your partner to hear you out. Oftentimes an individual might feel as if their partner is suggesting mediation because it somehow benefits their partner more than it will benefit themselves. Be patient and be aware of how your partner is feeling. Choosing between mediation and traditional divorce can be as big a decision as choosing to separate. It is not recommended that you try to force your partner to make this decision.
Focus On The Benefits
Mediation provides many benefits compared to traditional litigation. When talking to your spouse about mediation consider what benefits apply to both of you. Mediation is private, individuals have more control over the outcome, meetings take place at your convenience rather than the court’s, it is more affordable, and it is better for families with young children. Consider which of these benefits may be applicable to your situation and how best to discuss them with your partner.
Questions? Talk with A Mediator in Massachusetts
Deirdre Healy is a licensed attorney and mediator based in Worcester. If you have questions about mediation for you or your partner, she would be happy to set up a time to discuss. Disclaimer: message sent via email or via the website do not establish an attorney-client privilege