When two people disentangle from each other legally and perhaps emotionally, thorny issues are likely to result. For instance, who gets to keep the house? Who is responsible for the credit card debts? Is spousal support in the picture? If there are children, the issues tend to multiply. Custody is often a primary concern, and the parents may disagree in areas such as where the children spend holidays and how much internet use to allow them.
Whew! It all sounds like a lot to explore and like it is asking too much from two parties who have constantly changing feelings about each other. However, many couples have gone into divorce mediation and resolved the trickiest of issues.
Both parties have genuine intent
Mediation can do only so much if one spouse or both spouses are dug irretrievably into their positions and/or have no true interest in coming to an agreement. Thus, it is not the issues themselves that matter as much but actually the mindset of both spouses. Both stand to gain the most if they recognize the benefits of mediation such as cost savings, avoidance of courtroom drama, control and confidentiality. Mediation is not a venue for punishment or revenge. Nor is it a good way to resolve most cases in which the marriage has had domestic violence or abuse.
Sessions tend to start with areas of agreement
Early success can lead to more successes, so many mediators first focus on areas where the couple can agree easily. This helps them trust each other and be more open to hearing the other’s point of view and to compromise.
Another initial focus is making sure that both spouses have the information they need. For instance, if both want the house but there has been no house assessment, then talking about the house and its value is of limited use. So, the mediator would recommend an assessment and perhaps a few other options.