With so many couples looking to separate through family mediation rather than battling it out in Family Court over months or even years, I’ve put some important family mediation tips you need to know.
These tips may help you prepare for family mediation and through your mediation sessions as well.
Family Mediation Tips You Need To Know
Tip #1 – Understand Your Legal Rights
Understanding your legal rights and obligations is key to successful family mediation. This prevents either party from making unreasonable offers and demands. Mediators inform both parties of their legal rights but, for an extra layer of protection, it is a good idea to obtain legal advice on your rights and how the law will apply to your specific case.
It’s also useful to know how a Judge may view your case, if you were to approach the Family Court, and how much that could cost, should you fail to reach a settlement at family mediation.
Tip #2 – Collate Your Documents
Make sure you provide all relevant documents to the other party. Collate all your documents, ensure you fully understand them and can explain any item that your ex may ask about.
Collate all relevant documents that may be relevant to your case. Documents would include bank statements, salary slips, property valuations, etc. Providing such evidence will be essential to helping the mediator and the other side to understand your position.
Tip #3 – Prepare In Advance
Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is possibly the most important family mediation tip you need to know. Think hard and prepare in advance of how you plan to do that. Identify key points of dispute and, like a game of chess, think a few moves ahead and have possible solutions to such issues and any other problem that may pop up or your ex may throw at you.
Being fully prepared and knowing exactly what you want will go long way in ensuring you end up with an outcome that is appropriate to your specific needs. This is the beauty of family mediation, where both parties can achieve an outcome that they can both live with, instead of a judgment in Court that neither party may be satisfied with.
Tip #4 – Be Ready To Compromise
One thing you need to realise before you even begin family mediation is that you’re unlikely to get everything you want. So be ready to compromise.
An advantage of mediation is that, unlike the Family Court, you have the luxury of trading issues. The more you’re prepared to compromise, the easier it becomes for your ex to reciprocate, paving the way for a quicker and amicable settlement.
Compromising also means being open-minded to any suggestion made by the mediator or the other party. Think hard before deciding. There is no rush to answer or agree on something you are not entirely happy with. If necessary, seek advice before deciding.
Tip #5 – Keep Listening
Listen when others talk and listen carefully. Not only with your ears but with your eyes too. A roll of the eyes, a shake or a nod of the head, tells you what they’re thinking. Don’t miss those small tell-tale signs that speak volumes.
By knowing what the other side is thinking, you’re able to prepare your answers and offer suggestions that will be met positively.
Tip #6 – Be Honest
Without total honesty from both parties, family mediation will often fail. Honesty is not negotiable.
If you are caught being dishonest, by failing to provide any relevant document, not disclosing an asset or source of income or provide false information, any Orders you make may be set aside by the Court. By disclosing all information truthfully, it will encourage your ex to do the same.
Tip #7 – Think About Your Language
If you know you might get flustered during your mediation session with your ex, and risk becoming emotional or even aggressive, it’s best to plan ahead about how you might react to different scenarios presented in the mediation.
Use language that shows you are willing to listen, understand and compromise. Instead of talking about ‘you said’ or ‘you did’, be more inclusive with your language and try communicate how situations have impacted you, and how you can work together to resolve your issues. Don’t lay blame and try to ‘win points’ because of it.
Tip #8 – Focus On The Big Picture
Focusing on the big picture – achieving a settlement that is best for your whole family –will prevent getting bogged down on trivial matters that will undoubtedly crop up during mediation.
Don’t try to beat your ex on every point. Rather, compromise with each another enabling you both to feel that you’ve come away with an amicable agreement. This will pave the way for less stressful post-divorce relationship, which is essential for the children too.
Tip #9 – Stay Calm
Keeping emotions in check during mediation will be difficult, but it’s a vital component in negotiating any level of settlement.
If you have planned and have all your documents collated in front of you, endeavour to stay calm and stick to the facts.
Always remember you are there to resolve your disputes and not rake over what has happened in the past.
Tip #10 – Agree Who Will Pay
Costs are often a major concern for many couples going through a separation. While family mediation is the least costly way of separating, costs can still escalate if the process is allowed to continue for a long period.
Many mediators charge a set fee at the beginning of the process, so both parties know exactly what they’re in for.
Whatever the payment method, it’s essential that you both agree on who will pay how much right at the beginning too.
Did you find these family mediation tips helpful?
Are you ready to start the family mediation process?
Get in touch with Ian today to discuss your separation and find out if family mediation is the right solution for your separation or divorce.