Most court procedures are adversarial processes — and divorce is no exception. That means that there are winners and losers in any litigation.
Divorce mediation, however, aims to upend that dynamic. Nobody should walk away entirely victorious, but nobody should walk away empty-handed, either.
How do you focus on compromise over winning?
It can be hard to let go of the mindset that your divorce is about winning and losing and aim for a set of agreed-upon compromises, instead. It may be easier if you think of this as a business negotiation and use the same principles that professionals use in contract negotiations and more.
Here are some tips:
- Decide what you value the most — and the least. Sit down and write out everything you’d like to have in your divorce agreement and rank them in order of importance.
- Decide where your “line in the sand” will be. Everybody has things they are unwilling to give up. You may have to sacrifice a few things to negotiate a peaceful agreement, but you shouldn’t sacrifice your future financial stability, time with the kids or anything else critically important.
- Recognize that you can always walk away. If mediation fails because your spouse is too demanding, you can always resort to litigation. That may take some of the emotional weight out of the meetings and make it easier to really consider the offers being made.
- Listen carefully to what your spouse is saying. The better you understand your spouse’s goals for the divorce, the more effectively you can negotiate.
- Be open to creative solutions. Sometimes the best solution to a sticking point isn’t what you initially believe. Be willing to entertain any suggestion — however briefly — in the name of a cooperative spirit.
A mediated divorce isn’t guaranteed to be easy — but it can definitely be easier than litigation. If you take it one step at a time, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.