Mediation and collaboration are types of alternative dispute resolution that many couples turn to in the hopes of reaching a divorce settlement more peaceably than through traditional litigation. Instead of taking sides and fighting to get what they want, divorcing spouses work together to reach an agreement that is beneficial to both of them. This includes discussion on major issues like property division, child custody and support matters.
If you and your spouse have opted to try alternative dispute resolution for your divorce, you will want to learn as much as possible about the procedure and the laws in California so you will know your rights and how to protect them. It is also important that you have no misconceptions about ADR. No matter how peaceful the process, your relationship with your spouse is still the same.
Seeking every advantage in your negotiations
Using mediation or collaboration to divorce is not limited to those couples who have made a mutual and amicable decision to end their marriages. In fact, even couples who have much contention and resentment between them have had some success with an ADR process. Therefore, if you and your spouse are not on the best of terms as you approach your divorce, this should not discourage you from trying the more civil methods of mediation or collaboration.
However, you should be ready to deal with any negative emotions or reactions that may surface during discussions. It is not uncommon for ADR negotiations to become tense, and you can improve your chances of success by taking these steps:
- Reflect on your marriage and recognize the most common ways you and your spouse dealt with conflict or difficult decisions. You can expect the same reactions during ADR.
- Make a list of topics that seem to be triggers for you or your spouse.
- Seek professional help so you can learn to deal with those triggers more effectively.
- During negotiations, be aware of signs like body language, tone of voice or certain words that may indicate your spouse is close to losing his or her temper.
- Notice your own triggers, and if you feel yourself reaching a breaking point, don't be afraid to step away momentarily.
- Recognize when your ex is trying to goad you into an argument.
Since you are more likely to notice the subtle signs in your spouse and in yourself, you may find it wise to let your attorney know the indicators that an emotional meltdown is imminent. This way, your advocate can step in and ask for a break or even redirect the conversation. Plowing forward when emotions are volatile can damage your negotiations.