(2:42 minutes to read} As a divorce mediator, I find I am more of an educator than a lawyer. This is because I often work with spouses who each had a different role to play during the marriage, and each needs to learn about the role the other spouse played.
One may have been responsible for cooking and buying groceries while the other might be in charge of laundry and cleaning the house. One may have paid the bills while the other mowed the lawn.
While some of these tasks can be fairly easily learned by the “non-responsible” spouse when the couple separates, I have found that learning how to play the “bill-paying” role is the one that presents the greatest challenge.
This is often a task that is not shared by the spouses, and the one who has not been involved in the finances has a lot to learn when they separate. Not only do they need to know what bills need to be paid and when, they often need to learn:
- Passwords for the various accounts;
- When and how deposits are made; and
- How much to set aside on a regular basis for the less frequent bills, such as car insurance or property taxes.
As a result, I find that I spend a lot of time during my mediation sessions helping educate the “non-financial” spouse about the process. During this “education,” we:
- Look at expenses on a spreadsheet;
- Discuss bank accounts and which are used for what purpose;
- Discuss how to access each account; and
- Talk about how the bills are paid.
I also find that I am spending a great deal of time with my clients going over expenses, using the Expense Sheet that I provide to each of them when they start the mediation process.
The bottom line: Divorce is much more than just a “legal” event. It is a complete life-change for each person. It requires each of them to learn to play a role that he or she may not have played during the marriage. As a result, I find that being a divorce mediator is more like being a teacher than a lawyer!