Divorce is a messy process. It is never easy to dissolve your marriage, leave behind the life you have known since you were first married and face an uncertain future. And if children are involved, the prospect of a permanent separation becomes all the more difficult.
Typically, there are several questions going through the mind of divorcing couples, such as:
Where am I going to live?
How am I going to pay the bills?
How are we going to divide the assets?
Who will retain custody of the children?
What will my life be like going back to being single?
As a divorce mediator, I work with countless couples every year. One of the most common dynamics I run across is spouses who are at different emotional stages in the divorce process. For example, one spouse may have come to the realization many months ago that the marriage is effectively over, while the other may still be holding out hope of reconciliation.
When one spouse really wants to get divorced and the other does not, things can go downhill fast, particularly when that spouse opts for traditional litigation. I have seen situations when one spouse is served with divorce papers, and that is the very first they have heard that the other party wanted a divorce. This sends a very harsh message, and forging an amicable settlement in the wake of such an action proves very difficult if not, impossible.
Mediation Softens the Blow
Divorce is especially hard on the spouse who does not want to let go of the marriage. Often, they feel like a helpless victim who has suddenly lost control of their future. When the couple comes in for divorce mediation, this spouse is typically very resistant at first to the entire process. Sometimes I hear questions like “we were just talking about buying a new house a few weeks ago, where did this divorce idea come from”?
I always ask if the couple has tried counseling. Many have gone through counseling, but usually, at least one of the spouses has come to the realization that divorce is the only viable option. In such cases, I typically advise the spouses that if all other avenues have been exhausted and one party insists on divorce, sooner or later the other party will need to accept this reality. Throughout the divorce mediation process, the resisting spouse is often able to come to accept the divorce, and we are able to work out an equitable solution.
As difficult as divorce is, I consider it a privilege to be able to work my clients through the process as smoothly and rationally as possible. I do my best to try and stay in tune emotionally to where each spouse is in the process, and there are times when I witness one party coming to the realization that their marriage is ending. As a divorce mediator, it is my job to try to soften this harsh reality and help my clients reach an amicable settlement, so they can pick up the pieces and move forward with their lives.