Come prepared to identify problem areas, consider options, and offer compromises. Mediators help clients reach a reasonable and fair consensus for a win/win environment.
Try to focus on the future and not the past. If you stay mired in old wounds, you’re likely to remain angry and hurt, emotions that impede clear thinking. Learn to let go and focus on how to make a better future instead of re-living past injustices.
If the mediator finds that either party is not being honest about their assets or income, he is likely to terminate mediation.
During the marriage, most spouses feel like they have been required to give more than their partner. Relationships are not arithmetic; it often takes more than a 50 percent effort from both sides. When relationships are in turmoil, we must put forth even more effort and generosity. When both parties are willing to do more than they feel is required, cases settle and spouses are better able to move forward in healthy directions.
You may have lost a spouse, but can you keep a friend or co-parent. In our relationships, we must often wear many hats. Some may wear out, while others still fit.
A common interest is providing a safe and healthy living environment for your children. A personal position is “I need the children at least half the time.”
State your goals without making personal attacks. Personal attacks cause mediation to regress into a cycle of attacking and defending. A helpful tool in this regard is to make what are called "I" statements. "I am struggling with trust issues right now" sells better than "You’re a liar."
The mediator is not a judge. The mediator is here to help the two of you reach a decision. It really doesn't matter if the mediator thinks one or the other of you is better, faster, wiser, funnier, fairer, or better looking. If you want to be the mediator’s buddy, or more importantly get your case settled, then facilitate problem solving, be flexible, and be fair. Don't worry about what the mediator thinks.
If you are harboring a great deal of anger and bitterness, be willing to get counseling. The pain of divorce can also be a catalyst to making healthy changes. Therapy helps with that process. Although some venting in mediation can be tolerated, it is generally not the best place for it. Most mediators are not therapists, but because they see many families in distress they may recognize family members whom are depressed, overly anxious, or otherwise stuck in a place where they are not processing the divorce well. If the mediator recommends counseling, please take the recommendation seriously and remember that half of the families in divorce are in counseling (and the other half should be).
Some families feel like mediation goes too quickly and not enough attention is paid to details; other families feel like the process is dragging on more than necessary. Your mediator and your lawyer work for you. Just as you must be honest and open with your spouse, so too must you foster open and healthy communication with your lawyer or your mediator.
Avoid comparing notes with other divorced friends. Non-professional advice on legal matters is typically worth what you pay for it.
Sometimes the enemy of the best is the good. While you may have a very good reason for your position, there might be a better reason to change it.