If you are the one who has suggested divorce mediation to your spouse, there is a chance your spouse may resist the idea. When facing divorce, our spouse may mistrust your intentions, may be hesitant to anything you suggest, or may be avoiding any legal discussions.
Often a spouse may simply not understand what is meant by family mediation or be in a place to consider the benefits that family mediation affords. Here are a few of the common misconceptions about family mediation, along with responses that may help you convince your spouse that the mediation process is appropriate for your separation or divorce:
“I don’t want relationship counselling”
Tip 1: Mediation is not marriage counselling. Mediation is a legal process. Mediators and relationship counsellors both use conflict resolution tools, but the family mediator’s sole focus is to help you reach an agreement with your spouse on issues pertaining to your separation.
They are not being retained to save your relationship, but rather they are there to help you negotiate the legal processes and ensure that things don’t get worse or even break down entirely.
“We can save money doing it ourselves”
Tip 2: While nearly everyone understands that going to court is expensive, almost as many believe that doing it themselves will save money.
However, the people doing this are not professionals and unfortunately they don’t know what they don’t know. Doing it yourself often means you neglect required steps of the process, making it far more likely your agreement would be invalidated by a court if it was ever challenged.
Fixing these mistakes at a later date costs significant time and money, especially if it goes to court. Make an investment in the peace of mind associated with doing it right the first time.
“I want to tell my story in front of a judge”
Tip 3: Some people are unusually excited about having a chance to tell their story in court. What they fail to realize is that the court process can take years.
Before they reach court, there are months of case conferences, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, and tons of lawyer meetings, each of which cost you money.
Even then, Ontario does not take into consideration “fault” when addressing divorce. Once they finally get in front of a judge, there is no guarantee that either spouse will get the outcome they desire. On the other hand, mediation puts the process entirely in your hands. You decide on the timeline and are in control of the negotiations.
“We fight too much to ever agree in mediation”
Tip 4: While you may think that conflict and arguments during marriage may disqualify you from mediation, the truth is that if you could agree on everything you wouldn’t need a mediator in the first place.
When you retain a mediator, you are retaining their expertise in helping couples in conflict to negotate. Mediators will help you overcome the barriers to negotiation that inevtiably pop up during conflict.
“I’ve heard horror stories about mediation”
Your spouse may have preconceived notions about the mediation process, especially if it was your idea. Talk to family and mutual friends and ask them for support. They may react differently to information coming from them rather than you.
“I don’t want to be forced into anything”
Tip 6: Share information about mediation with your spouse rather than trying to sell on it. Try to talk about the benefits of mediation and provide them with some educational material, but let them do their own research. In all likelihood, they’ll soon come to the same conclusions as you.
How to Avoid A Messy Divorce
- Seriously consider mediation before lawyer litigation
- If at all possible, stay out of the Family Courts
- Gather and organize your financial documents
- Do your homework, understand how divorce works in Ontario