Some couples who come to mediation do not know if the final result will be a divorce. What they do know is that their current situation is not working for them, and they want clarity and expectations put into place on the financial side, while they deal with the emotional side of the situation.
- How will we share time with the children and cover their expenses while we are in mediation?
- Who is going to pay the mortgage and bills during this time?
- Who is going to stay in the marital residence and who will live elsewhere?
I was recently working with a couple who wanted an agreement even though both admitted they weren’t sure that the marriage was over. They had decided to live separately, but both acknowledged that a reconciliation was possible. What they both wanted was a set of rules to live by while living apart.
As we discussed their parenting plan, how they wanted to divide their things and how to deal with the financial issues, one of them became very emotional. She felt the discussion made it seem like they were getting divorced, and she was not sure she was ready to go there yet.
For this couple, the agreement they reached became a “contingency plan,” but not necessarily the one that would come to pass.
- If they decided to reconcile, then the agreement could be disregarded; but
- If either of them wanted it to become permanent, they would have already made decisions that protected their post-divorce futures.
Many couples come into mediation unsure about whether they really want to do this or not. While the mediation process is taking place, they need an interim plan that allows them to be heard, helps them define future goals, and outline expectations of each other.
Is your current situation not working for you? Are you trying to decide if divorce is the correct action to take? Mediation can help you and your spouse put both long and short term plans into place, to give you the time you need to determine the answers to those questions.