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How to Propose Mediation or Collaborative Divorce to Your Spouse

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Want to attempt mediation or collaborative divorce, but are unsure if your spouse is going to agree to it? Below is how to ask your spouse for getting a “yes”.

When you have chosen to suggest mediation or collaboration to your spouse, take a little time finding out what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Keep reading for some suggestions, in addition to some dos and don’ts to take into account.

Orally or in Writing

When you and your spouse communicate fairly well face-to-face or over the phone, you might be able to suggest mediation or use collaborative law by simply talking to your spouse about it. When your spouse tends to react negatively to your ideas and suggestions during conversations, or when you are not on speaking terms, then propose if in writing.

Knowing What to Say

Whether you make the suggestion in person, on the phone, or in writing, suggest mediation or collaborative divorce in a manner that is unbiased and non-threatening. Give your spouse information without making them feel like it’s about being pressured or sold something. If you’re proposing mediation or collaboration in writing, think about writing a draft letter and having a loyal friend or consultant examine it before sending the final letter to your spouse. Should you make the proposal in person or over the phone, plan ahead what you are going to say, and write down some notes concerning it. Maybe practice with a friend to be sure you set the proper tone and cover all the bases you need to make.

Providing Pamphlets and Other Materials

When you have pamphlets or other printed materials clarifying mediation, consider giving them to your spouse to go over. Same holds true with any good websites or other information you’ve discovered. In this manner, you both of would be using the same viewpoint as you address if, how, and who to mediate with.

Proposing a Specific Mediator

Subject to your situation, you might want to begin the process of trying to locate a mediator prior to you suggesting mediation to your spouse, or you might want to wait until they can take an active part in the selection process.

When you have already made a list of mediators, with information concerning their fees and procedures, give the list to your spouse so they can choose from it. This provides your spouse the proof that you are prepared to share information and gives them a say in what happens. In that manner, the mediation is more probable to begin on a cooperative tone.

Should you contact the possible mediators in advance is subject to whether your spouse is going to view this as an attempt to sway the mediator to your side instead of an impartial request for typical information. If you are doubting this, it might be best to stay away from prior contact with the mediators you want to decide on. You can typically find something out about mediators in your area without talking to them directly. Then you can let your spouse know what you’ve discovered and assure them that you haven’t jeopardized the mediator’s objectivity by making the preliminary contact.

When your spouse is likely to view with distrust anyone you recommend, propose mediation in common terms and offer to think about a mediator recommended by your spouse. You can still look at possible mediators in your area so you can make a conscious choice on your spouse’s recommendation, but you can prevent giving your spouse a feeling of being coerced or ordered to.

If you are suggesting collaborative divorce, and if neither of has retained an attorney, it’s perfectly fine with giving your spouse a pamphlet or other information that lists local attorneys with knowledge in collaborative practice. Nevertheless, avoid suggesting specific attorneys for your spouse, unless your spouse explicitly requests it.

Initiating Mediation or Collaboration: Dos and Don’ts

Dos

  1. Conduct Research: Do investigate mediation or collaboration processes, costs, and local providers. Read resources like “Divorce Without Court” by Katherine Stoner and consult experienced individuals in these methods.
  2. Provide Unbiased Reasons: Do articulate that mediation or collaboration is a cost-effective and amicable approach, fostering a fair and cooperative settlement.
  3. Share Information: Do communicate what you’ve learned about available mediators or collaborative lawyers. Share pamphlets or materials with your spouse.
  4. Offer Choices: Do express flexibility by asking for your spouse’s input. When suggesting mediation, provide a list of potential mediators and invite your spouse to propose alternatives.

Don’ts

  1. Avoid Hard Selling: Don’t pressure your spouse. Present your reasons, offer information, and provide choices without imposing. A non-coercive approach encourages active participation.
  2. Steer Clear of Intimidation: Don’t make threats or appear condescending if your proposal is declined. Acknowledge that mediation or collaboration is optional, and maintain a respectful tone.
  3. Respect Equality in Negotiation: Don’t act superior or claim expertise in mediation or collaboration. Approach the process as negotiations among equals, fostering a cooperative atmosphere.

Additional Advice

  1. Persistence Pays Off: Do not give up if your spouse initially rejects the idea. Revisit the proposal later, considering a more opportune time or providing a gentle reminder. Mediation or collaboration can save time and money at any stage of the divorce process.

Source:

  1. Emily Doskow, A. (2013, April 3). How to propose mediation or collaborative divorce to your spouse. www.divorcenet.com. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/divorce-mediation/how-propose-mediation-or-collaborative

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