If you are thinking about divorce or are already in the process of divorce and were planning on trying mediation, you might be wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to move forward given the current chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you have already started your sessions and wonder if this is the time for a pause. Fortunately, there is no reason to forego starting mediation or continuing with your sessions due to an outbreak. Talk to your mediator about arranging a virtual session, which can be an easy option for keeping your mediation on track. Secure, reliable, and easy to use video conferencing is always available at Weinberger Mediation Center. Read more
Before thinking about divorce mediation, a fundamental first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are really ready for divorce. There is a difference between readiness for divorce and readiness for divorce mediation, although these certainly overlap. Today we will talk about the former and in our next post, the latter.
Assessing Readiness for Divorce
Have you told your spouse that you want a divorce? Did you mean it? When a marriage is trouble, either party might threaten divorce out of anger or frustration. Sometimes it seems like the only way to regain a sense of control. You might just want to shake the other person up and force them to look at the seriousness of the situation. Angry attacks, however, will not change a person’s mind or character. Nor will filing for divorce.
If either of you has fallen into a pattern of making divorce threats (or maybe even if you just make such threats silently, in your own mind), it’s time to ask some deeper questions:
- Do you believe you have done everything possible to save the relationship?
- Are you fully aware of both the negative and the positive potential effects of divorce and feel ready to move forward regardless?
- Can you let go of your super-charged emotions, whatever these might be—anger, grief, or guilt—and discuss options for resolution without blame?
Unless you can answer a resounding yes to all of these questions, think about starting with a therapist or a couple’s counselor, instead of a divorce mediator. Maybe you feel conflicted because you see loneliness, rejection and failure ahead, regardless of which way you turn. If that’s the case, it can help to start building up your support system of family and friends before taking a dramatic leap which could be out of the fireplace but into the fire. Also consider talking to an attorney sooner rather than later. Sometimes people imagine that after a divorce they will be either much better or much worse off financially. They may or may not be correct in their assessments, but either way, a consultation with an attorney can help illuminate the truth.
When to Consider Marriage Counseling
If you are thinking about marriage counseling—also known as couples counseling or marital therapy—make sure that you understand the purpose. Some people confuse it with divorce mediation. Mediation is for couples who are ready to divorce and want to reach a legal agreement about things like dividing property, parenting children, or paying support. While couples do occasionally reconcile during the mediation process, that’s neither the norm nor the purpose. If you still have hopes of reconciliation, then consider seeing a couple’s counselor first.
The primary purpose of marriage counseling is to help couples stay married. It teaches people to communicate better, confront marital issues, and strengthen emotional bonds. If you think you want a divorce, but you have reservations, marriage counseling might help you come to a clear conclusion. Another option is individual therapy, which can help you gain clarity through working out your own issues
When Marriage Counseling Might Help
Surviving an Affair
Over the past few years on this blog, we have analyzed several couples’ readiness for divorce. For example, Katherine and Julian, who were both 33 years old and had been married for six years. They had no children, but a divorce would have presented them with significant economic issues. Their marriage had broken down, at least in part due to Katherine’s affair with a coworker. She insisted that the affair was over and wanted to try to save their marriage. Julian, however, was not receptive. He wanted to go straight to court. “I do not even want to be in the same room with Katherine!” he said.
Julian was shocked by the news of Katherine’s affair. He had believed they were happy. He immediately left their home to stay with a friend. Katherine left him several messages expressing regret and asking him to please consider seeing a couple’s therapist with her. Eventually Julian relented and agreed. We saw from this example that an affair is not always the end of a marriage. Some couples, in fact, manage not only to survive an affair; they emerge from it with a stronger bond.
Revitalizing a Long Marriage
Another couple we looked at, Gerry and Beth were in their early 60’s, had been married for 35 years, and had three grown children. While they once had a good marriage, Beth felt that Gerry had been distant and disinterested in their life together for a long time. She wanted to retire from teaching and move closer to their oldest daughter and two young grandchildren. Gerry, on the other hand, loved his job. He wanted to keep working until they had enough saved to maintain their current lifestyle.
When Beth told Gerry that she wanted a divorce, he took her by surprise by saying that he still loved her and still had hope for their marriage. He said he had no objection to her retiring and spending a few months a year with their daughter, but he didn’t think that meant they had to divorce. Maybe they could start trying some new things together. He was even willing to learn ballroom dancing!
Beth was touched but not sure things could change enough for her to feel committed again. She went ahead and met with an attorney, who opened her eyes to some practicalities. Eventually, she decided that she owed it to Gerry and their long marriage to at least try marriage counseling. When she did, she found herself deeply affected by several things he told her. She left the first session feeling far less certain that a divorce was what she really wanted.
When Individual Therapy is a Better Choice
Marriage counseling can sometimes be the answer when you are not sure which way to turn. It isn’t always the best choice though. If your situation involves domestic violence or substance abuse, or if your spouse has not demonstrated any capacity or willingness to address his or her own contributions to the dysfunction in the marriage, you are more likely to benefit from individual therapy. If you aren’t sure which choice is right for you, start with an individual therapist, who can help you assess your readiness for divorce and explore your other options.
On the other hand, if you are already certain that you want a divorce and are wondering whether or not mediation is for you, keep reading. You can find lots of information on this website, and next month, we’ll take a closer look at readiness for mediation.
Do you have questions about divorce mediation? One of our caring and experienced mediators can help you decide. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Happy New Year and welcome to the 2020’s! The start of a new year, let alone a new decade, always leads a lot of people to decide that it’s time to make real changes in their lives. For some, that means finally sorting out an impending divorce.
Maybe you’ve heard that mediation is a good way to handle a divorce. On the other hand, maybe you just watched A Marriage Story and have been scared away. (For those who haven’t seen the movie yet, heads up, there are some minor spoilers in this post, but nothing you wouldn’t learn very early in the show.) Read more
The year is winding down, and we are already in the thick of the holidays. If you have been struggling with your marriage, you might be thinking that the best gift you could give yourself would be a meeting with a divorce attorney or a divorce mediator. You might also think it makes more sense to ride out the rest of the year without upsetting family traditions. After all, isn’t choosing peace in the spirit of the season? Read more
The end of another year is closing in; the days are growing shorter and the weather colder. This means, of course, that it’s time once again to celebrate the winter holidays. While not everyone practices religious holiday traditions, many people do. In fact, some couples practice the traditions of more than one faith. Read more
Over the past few years we have pointed out the many benefits of divorce mediation. Successful mediation, however, requires the right mindset, including a collaborative spirit and a willingness to openly share financial information. Without these factors, mediation might not succeed. A divorce case could even devolve into a high cost horror story! Read more
Many people who are planning to resolve their divorce issues in mediation wonder whether or not they need an attorney. The following information can help you understand why attorneys are necessary, when to consult with an attorney, and what questions to ask any attorney you are considering hiring. Read more
“I know going to court is expensive,” Cassie told her lawyer, “but if we go to mediation, Brent is never going to agree to anything that I want. Every time I try to talk to him about alimony, he just gets mad. He keeps accusing me of wanting to mooch off of him for the rest of my life. I don’t like the idea of having to depend on him any more than he does, but he seems to think I can just walk back into a great job like the one I had when I was 30. I don’t think that’s too likely after 15 years at home with the kids!” Read more
Jim and Kelly decided to call it quits on their marriage after only three years. They believed their divorce would be simple. They had some property to divide, but at least they didn’t have to worry about fighting over custody and visitation of children. Unfortunately, when they sat down to hash things out, they realized that they did have someone to fight over, after all—their beloved pets. Read more
If you are considering divorce mediation, you might be taken aback when you hear that during the process you and your soon-to-be-ex will need to speak directly to one another. Tracy, a 32-year-old mother of two, sums up the typical response. “Impossible! The whole reason we’re getting a divorce is that we’re completely unable to communicate with each other.”
But for Tracy, and for you, the truth is, no matter how you plan to proceed with your divorce, you will need to find some way to exchange information and ideas during settlement efforts. Effective communication can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing positive results. If you have children, you will also need to continue interacting with each other after the divorce is over, so the sooner you learn how to do that effectively the better. Read more
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