Issues That Can Interfere with a Successful Divorce Mediation
- Divorce Mediation can be an effective way for parties to agree upon essential divorce terms without resorting to litigation. Unlike taking the matter to court, this powerful process gives the participants the freedom to develop an agreement that works for their circumstances. When both sides are able to utilize mediation effectively, they have the potential to end their case in a manner that is suited to their situation and move on with their lives. However, as beneficial as this process may be, some issues can interfere with a successful Divorce Mediation.
The Wrong Mentality
- One thing that can derail Divorce Mediation is when one or both sides approach the process with an adversarial mentality. That’s not to suggest that the parties have to get along in order to mediate. If they have had conflict up until this point, it's understandable that there may be some residual tension going into mediation. The problem arises when a party assumes that Divorce Mediation is a high-pressure negotiation setting and enters into the process expecting to get everything they are demanding. Divorce Mediation is about being open to negotiating and achieving equitable and reasonable results. If you or your ex show up to mediation with a litigation mindset, it can interfere with the process.
- When a party comes into Divorce Mediation with their mind made up that they are not going to budge on certain issues, it can inhibit negotiation. There may be some matters that you or your ex see as non-negotiable. However, that doesn't mean that this preference is supported by Wisconsin law or likely to be ordered by a judge. For example, one party may be angry at their ex about the divorce and want to bar them from seeing the children. Outside of a situation where kids will be endangered or harmed by seeing a parent, the court is not going to issue an order denying contact. Therefore, if the person’s ex wants shared placement and the law and facts support that term, it would be unreasonable and counterproductive to the mediation to ask that they be denied placement time. It also won't help if one or both parties are inflexible and unrealistic. For instance, suppose one party wants to keep the marital home but does not have the income to pay the mortgage. In this situation, it may be better for everyone involved to sell the property and divide the proceeds.
- Divorce Mediation functions best when both parties can consider various possibilities for their situation. When a person has an all-or-nothing mentality, they usually can’t see all of their options. However, by being flexible and open to negotiation, both sides may be able to find workable solutions for their disputed issues.
Not Being Able to See the Big Picture
- Sometimes when parties go into Divorce Mediation, they have pre-conceived ideas about what to expect during the process and the possible results. They may have formed these impressions after talking to a friend or loved one regarding their past experiences with the process. These notions may also be due to viewing misleading information on the internet, social media posts, or entertainment programs. Whatever the reason, when a participant gets it in their mind that certain mediation results are to be expected as the norm, they can miss the entire goal of the process.
- The ultimate goal of Divorce Mediation is for the parties to come to an agreement on all or most of their divorce terms. These agreements should be based on what each party perceives to be equitable given their situation. Mediation agreement results are as unique as the people they concern. Your agreement should be a reflection of your circumstances rather than that of a set of so-called mediation norms.
Lack of Preparation
- Some people mistakenly believe that it's not important to take steps to prepare for mediation. However, as with many areas of life, being prepared for Divorce Mediation can make all of the difference. You will want to be every bit as ready for your mediation as you would be for a final divorce hearing. That will mean taking time to gather information, consider the issues, and develop goals before walking in the door. Additionally, some mediators will ask you to provide them with information beforehand and to bring certain documents to the mediation. It’s in your best interests to comply with all of your Mediator’s requests. Showing up unprepared can create unnecessary delays, cause frustration, and inhibit your ability to meaningfully participate in the process.
Selecting the Wrong Mediator
- Just as there are lawyers who specialize in different practice areas, Mediators are also trained to mediate certain types of cases. It's vital that you work with a Mediator who is focused on and has experience with Wisconsin family law cases. Selecting a Mediator who is not experienced in family law matters can be detrimental to the process. Divorce Mediators are often family law attorneys or retired judges with experience handling divorce and child custody cases. An experienced Wisconsin family law Mediator will be familiar with the applicable laws and court practices as well as the issues that must be decided in your case.
Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Family Law Attorney
- Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law understands the complexities of divorce and the importance of Divorce Mediation. She is an attorney and Mediator with over 29 years of experience helping clients understand their options and connect with resources during and after their Wisconsin divorce cases. Contact us today and let us take a “first look” at your situation.