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Three Tips to Save Money in Mediation

Rachel Alexander Jan. 4, 2011

One of the benefits of mediation is that clients save money – a lot of money – compared to the cost of paying for a traditional divorce. However, in these precarious economic times, even mediating couples can do well to find ways to keep costs down. These three tips can help couples save money in the mediation process, while increasing effectiveness and satisfaction.

One. For couples who are able to communicate, even a little, even about only some issues, consider setting aside a block of 15 minutes to meet in a neutral location (a coffee shop, a park bench) to discuss one issue only. If couples communication is too battered to attempt this, or it feels in any way unsafe, pass on this suggestion altogether. However, for couples who can talk about, for example, the timeshare or the practice/game schedule of the children, consider tackling a piece of this for 15 minutes. It is important that the couple observe the time limit and, if they are making progress, agree on another time to reconvene for another “mini meeting.” Both parties must agree that at anytime during the 15 minutes, either may stop if s/he feels unheard, disrespected, uncomfortable, and the other will not retaliate in any way. The idea is to establish a structured, safe space to talk about, some of the less contentious, less emotional areas of the divorce. Whatever is accomplished during these “mini meetings” can be shared with the mediator in session, and, where the couples have agreed, moved through at a clip.

Two. Preparation.The mediator will advise clients what to prepare for sessions, however, there are some things clients can begin to organize in advance of commencing the mediation process. Start to take a look at your financials, particularly your monthly bills. Even if you can’t pull together a budget, begin to collect bills as they come in, or even jot down expenses as you think of them. This can help inform you and thus, the mediator, of your current financial reality.

Another means of preparing is educating yourself about mediation. There is a lot of information available online. For a quick reference see my site https://www.alexandermediation.com/ to familiarize yourself with the topics covered and the benefits and goals of mediation.

Three. Ready, Set your expectations. Before entering mediation clarify your expectations of yourself, your mediator, and your spouse. The more specific you can be, and the more you can articulate these expectations early in mediation, the greater the chances that your mediator can be most helpful to you. If some of your expectations fall outside the scope of the process, your mediator can explain this, while helping to focus on agreed upon goals. For example, one client may share at an initial consultation that she is most concerned about telling her children about the divorce. A responsive mediator can then address this issue early on, freeing clients to explore other issues afterward. Another client may share that he is concerned that his spouse will not let him complete a sentence uninterrupted. A sensitive mediator can then address the couple’s communication styles and recommend some parameters early on, before destructive communication undermines progress. By entering mediation ready to articulate the obstacles that may threaten a successful experience (and outcome), you can greatly aid your mediator in effectively assisting you and your spouse to design a sound resolution.