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Maybe mediation is not right for your divorce

One of the first things you may have done after getting married - or maybe even before you married - was to open a joint checking account. After that, you probably bought some furniture, a car and maybe even a house. If you have children together, those little ones solidified your bond even more. However, those many things in common may not have solidified your relationship.

If you and your spouse are moving toward divorce, you may be weighing your options. Beyond traditional litigated divorce, you can choose alternative dispute resolution. There are pros and cons to the different methods of divorce, and you may have heard the many benefits of mediation. More North Dakota couples are reaching satisfying divorce settlements through mediation. However, this method is not best for everyone.

When is it better to skip mediation?

Mediation brings you and your spouse together to discuss the issues in your divorce, such as property division, custody and support. A neutral mediator facilitates the discussions, and you reach your resolutions without the stress of a courtroom or the interference of a judge. Many couples admit that their post-divorce relationships are better following mediation than they would have been after a contentious litigated divorce. While this may seem attractive to you, mediation may not work if you are in any of the following situations:

  • You and your spouse do not want to maintain a civil relationship after the divorce.
  • Neither of you is ready to admit any responsibility for the demise of the marriage or back down from your version of events.
  • You feel ill-equipped to stand up for what you deserve during negotiations.
  • One or both of you does not want to mediate.
  • You and your spouse have so much conflict between you that you can't see each other's best interests.
  • Your marriage was abusive.

If one or both of you is not willing to try to make a positive settlement, mediation is probably not the best choice. On the other hand, you do not have to be in complete agreement about every issue to try mediation. Many couples find that they are able to break down some walls and strengthen their ability to communicate on critical issues by going through the mediation process. This can be especially beneficial if you have children and will be spending a good many years co-parenting.

No matter the path you and your spouse choose for ending your marriage, it will be important that each of you have individual legal counsel. In this way, even through mediation, you can be assured that someone is looking out for your rights and best interests if things get emotional or confusing. It is best to find an attorney who has experience in alternative dispute resolution and well as mediated divorce.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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