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Don’t Try This at Home! Part 2

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Don’t Try This at Home! Part 2

Don’t Try This at Home! Part 2 by Melissa Burns

{2:30 minutes to read} When couples come to me seeking divorce mediation, the first thing we do is meet for a consultation. This meeting is important because it gives clients a chance to meet me and have their questions answered. I go over the divorce mediation process with them and explain the services that I provide. I also give a very brief overview of the kinds of things we will talk about in divorce mediation: parenting plans, real estate, assets, liabilities, etc.

I also provide them with a workbook that contains a lot of useful information, including a section on “The Mediation Process.” In that section, I suggest that couples “Not Try This at Home!” I then go on to explain that it is usually better if they come to the sessions with ideas and proposals rather than try to settle things without my help.

Sometimes, after people leave the consultation, they start talking about what they want to do regarding certain items and issues. While there are many “no-brainer” decisions in a divorce that couples don’t need help with, like who gets the ice cube trays, some decisions, like a parenting plan or the division of substantial assets, require a great deal more consideration and thought.

In Part 1 of this series, Dan told the story of Hank and Wilma, a couple who came to their first mediation session having already made some significant decisions that, upon further exploration, felt unfair to Wilma. When she expressed this concern, Hank became extremely upset and felt that the agreement they had originally made should be honored, even though it had been reached without Wilma fully understanding the financial consequences.

Unable to reach a compromise, they ended up in litigation, which cost them both time and money. So, how could this have been avoided?

Conversations which address sensitive and/or significant decisions are best had during a mediation session, where the mediator can help you:

  • Understand the ramifications of your agreement;
  • Consider alternatives and future consequences; and
  • Fulfill any legal requirements that must be addressed.

Had Hank and Wilma waited until their first mediation session to have these discussions, I believe the outcome would have been different. When both individuals are fully informed as to their options, mediation can create an opportunity for discussion and compromise, resulting in an agreement that each can honor.

Melissa Burns

16 Pearl St., Suite 201
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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2017-02-16T11:08:50+00:00 By |Finances & Divorce, Mediation & the Law|

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