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How to avoid ruining your chances of settling your divorce in mediation?

How to avoid ruining your chances of settling your divorce in mediation?

Mediating your divorce is an opportunity to try and settle your case without going to trial. It is a fast, fair and cheap process. 

Litigation is long, hostile and very expensive.  After a trial, both the winners and the losers often wish they could have avoided litigation and reached a settlement in mediation. 

However, to be successful in mediation, both sides must be committed to listen to the other side, make concessions and leave with a different outcome than they had hoped for.  

Mediation is hard work.  It is hard for everyone - the spouses, the lawyers and the mediator.  The only mediations that work are the ones where each side is ready to do the ‘heavy lifting’ to avoid a trial.  Not all are. 

There are cases where the lawyers really want to settle, but their clients don’t. There are cases where the clients really want to settle, but their lawyers don’t. There are cases where the clients and the lawyers really want to settle, but the mediator is ineffective.

3 actions that can ruin your chances of settling your divorce in mediation

  1. Bringing a negative attitude and a closed mind to mediation.  

    This can take various forms, including:
  • Coming with the attitude that your case will never settle. 
  • Not listening to what your lawyer tells you that differs from what you want.  
  • Unwillingness to listen to the information provided by the mediator, instead expecting the mediator to become your divorce advocate.  
  • Remaining inflexible and demonstrating loudly to everyone that you are unwilling to compromise.
  1. Going out of your way to aggravate your ex-spouse right before your day of mediation.  

    This can include:
  • Disagreeing with everything your spouse suggests. 
  • Showing an unwillingness to compromise. 
  • Displaying hostility towards your ex-spouse. 
  • Ensuring that your ex-spouse is really angry with you so that even the most reasonable position you take in mediation is rejected.
  1. Failing to make full financial disclosure of your assets, debts and income.  

    In the majority of failed mediations, this entails:
  • Neglecting to gather any such information to give to your lawyer before mediation. 
  • Insisting that any settlement be made without proof of any of your figures.
  • Not accepting the advice that you cannot settle your case at mediation without financial disclosure. 
  • Insisting that it is a waste of time to make financial disclosure and that it is only being asked of you to upset you and for no other reason.

As ridiculous as the three scenarios above sound, spouses demonstrate these qualities every day in mediation. It is these very attitudes, actions and statements that prevent cases from settling in mediation. 

These types of behaviours are exactly what drives spouses to divorce trials. So before you dismiss our advice against these three behaviours, inquire whether any of the sentiments have been felt by you or your spouse. If so, good luck at trial.  

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