No one ever wants to go through divorce. But for many couples in North Carolina, this is the only solution after years of fighting and unhappiness. Just because a marriage is dissolving, however, doesn’t mean a couple has to go through traditional divorce proceedings in court. In fact, mediation can offer a better experience if couples are willing to take on the challenge.
As is the case with traditional divorce, mediation requires partners to come to an agreement on a variety of issues, including what to do with the family home, how to divide assets and debts, and how custody will be shared if the couple has children, among other things. Naturally, most couples want this process to go smoothly. So what are some ways couples can make this happen in mediation?
Make sure you’re on the same page
Mediation doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to make things go smoothly. The first and most important way to make sure this happens is to make sure each spouse is committed to the process and that they have the right expectations. Both spouses have to understand that in order for mediation to be successful both of them will have to make compromises, and that neither of them will leave with an agreement that contains everything they want.
Make sure you are on the same page with your partner before entering into divorce mediation so you can ensure amicable negotiations and a faster dissolution of the marriage. Know what issues are most important to you and what issues you can compromise on.
Maintain open communication
Successful mediation hinges on whether spouses can work through their problems in order to come to an agreement on divorce issues. Mediators are merely neutral third-party facilitators, meaning they can’t make those difficult decisions for spouses.
To ensure cooperation and effective negotiation, couples need to keep the lines of communication open and also understand the benefits of the mediation process as opposed to the risks of the court process. Many experts agree that instead of thinking of the dissolution of the marriage as a battle, see it as an opportunity to work through a major life challenge and come out feeling empowered on the other end. Although neither spouse will get everything they want at the end of a mediation, it allows the spouses to control the terms rather than leave it in the hands of a judge.
Whether you’ve been married five years or 50, property will need to be divided during mediation proceedings. Come prepared with a list of all your assets and liabilities as well as bank account records, billing statements and any other important documents related to your separate and marital property. While many of these documents will likely be exchanged before the mediation date, you need to make sure you have them and can easily reference values and information regarding any assets or debts that are being divided.
The more complete your records are, the less likely you’ll overlook something that could turn into a contentious dispute later on.
Look to an expert for help
One American Psychological Association article put it best by saying, “Divorce is a difficult time for the entire family.” No one is expecting you to have all of the answers or know how to handle every situation. When frustration and confusion rear their ugly heads, remember that you can always turn to family law professionals — such as attorneys and family psychologists — for help through the process of dissolving a marriage. Certain assets may also require experts such as an appraiser, a business evaluator, or a CPA. A qualified family law attorney can ensure that the right team of professionals is involved.