Why Should I Go to Mediation with My Spouse if We Are Divorcing?

A couple who is in the process of divorce understandably may not be on good terms with each other.  But this does not mean that is futile to meet and have a conversation, as long as it is in an appropriate setting, with the mutual intention of working towards an agreement.  

Mediation and Social or Financial Early Neutral Evaluation are types of alternative dispute resolution processes that are encouraged, and often court ordered, for couples seeking to divorce in Minnesota.  In many cases, these processes pave the way for a final resolution of all disputes in a divorce, including child custody and who gets to stay in the house.  The benefit of mediating an agreement is that the power over these decisions remains with the divorcing spouses, rather than a judge who may decide something that one of the parties—or neither of the parties—will want. 

Sitting in the same room with your spouse and hashing out the issues may not sound appealing.  It’s likely that the two of you have attempted to discuss how you will part ways, only to end up with hurt feelings, anger, and back to square one.  The structure of mediation or early neutral evaluation is different.  A neutral, third party, trained with the necessary skills for helping individuals work through conflict, will listen to each spouse’s side, reflect back what they are hearing each person say, and keep the conversation going in a respectful, productive manner.  In an evaluative process, the neutral third party can give an opinion as to what seems to be consistent with what a family law judge would do based on Minnesota law, and also, what would be the fairest outcome.  The confidential nature of alternative dispute resolution encourages parties to be open and honest, and the tone of respect and civility promotes active listening, rather than arguing and talking over each other.

Having early insight into divisive issues is immensely helpful for spouses who want to reach a resolution without losing time and attorney’s fees preparing for a long, drawn out trial.  Most family law attorneys would agree that trial should be the last resort, and having spouses testify against each other about deeply personal issues is never pleasant.    

When mediation or early neutral evaluation is an option in your divorce case, keep an open mind and give it a try, especially if you and your spouse have children in common.  Learning how to work through the past and present disputes will greatly benefit you if there are disagreements to address in the future, even after the divorce is finalized.

If you would like more information about divorce, please contact Wilson Law Group at 612-436-7100 for a consultation.