If you’ve both made the decision that resolving issues arising out of your separation in family mediation is the way forward then you may wonder how you can get the best out of the process. You may wish to ensure the discussions are as constructive as possible; you might want to consider how you can keep the costs down by reducing the number of sessions; or you might just want to give it the best chance of delivering you a workable resolution. Here are our tips for getting the most from the process:
1. Listen without interrupting in sessions. This might be really obvious but sometimes the other person says something that annoys you so much that you feel you have to immediately leap in. If you can pause, take a breath, and hear the other person out before making your point then it helps to ensure that you each feel you’re being heard which is really important in moving forward. Always remember that you don’t have to agree with the other person, but it’s helpful to understand where they’re coming from.
2. Focus on the future and the solution. Sometimes we wish we could change things that have been said and done in the heat of the moment. When we react from a place or anger or fear then we’re not using our whole brain and that can mean our responses aren’t very considered. This is a normal part of life immediately after separation and it’s not pretty. Family Mediation usually works best when both parties feel that they are able to start talking about what happens next and are more able to keep a lid on their emotions. There is no rule of thumb as to how long it will take someone to be at this point and it can often be different for both parties. It’s also tempting to see the problem as the other person but externalising the issues and seeing them as a problem you both need to solve can be helpful.
3. Be open to doing things different to how you envisaged. Simply, the more open you are to different options the more likely you are to find a compromise and that will certainly make sorting out life after separation easier.
4. Be organised with getting information together, and how this is organised so that you can easily find the right piece of information. This is particularly the case with sorting out money issues as you can end up with quite a volume of information. We often liken family mediation to doing a jigsaw puzzle. You can only see what the picture will look like once you have all the pieces of the puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are different bits of information that enable you to assess what options are possible, and to really see what they look like. This then enables you to make informed decisions about what next steps are right for you.
5. If you find that you are consistently getting stuck and struggling with coping with divorce then explore with your mediator what might be causing this and how you can address it. The mediator will often be able to see problems more clearly and will be able to use their experience to guide you to help you see what might be causing the difficult. They may be able to reframe the situation for you or point you to a therapist or suggest divorce coaching to help you to find a way forward.
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