Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Power of Mediation

Our condo is on the market, which means Max and I are still living together. Interestingly, we are getting along better than ever. I mean, we’re not snuggling or going out to dinner Friday night, but we are enjoying our time in the evenings to eat dinner, chat about our day, and watch junky TV shows. We are working together remarkably well on the condo, from agreeing on the asking price to keeping our home in pristine condition. (After years of my bitching about Max never cleaning up after himself, he’s sure making up for lost time and keeping the place spotless!)

When my friends ask how it’s been going with Max, they’re shocked at how not-that-weird it is. I’ve thought about why we’re getting along this well, and I have a guess: mediation.

Deciding Between A Lawyer and A Mediator

I went to a lawyer back in September. This would’ve meant the typical setup of I have a lawyer, he has a lawyer, and then we never speak directly to each other, which means an obnoxious, expensive game of Telephone. At $400+ per hour multiplied by two lawyers, this could add up fast, even with a simple divorce like ours. It just didn’t feel right.

Then I heard about mediation. I thought mediation was for a couple trying to work things out, so it was news to me that mediators can help you get divorced. I spoke to several mediators, and I really liked the idea of Max and me being in the same room through the whole process. None of the potential confusion of “That wasn’t what I meant when I said that to my lawyer!” Also, I liked that it would be a lot cheaper. We would pay one legal professional instead of two, which meant half the cost.

I found a mediation team that was comprised of a lawyer with a background in tax and real estate law and a licensed marital and family therapist. They would step us through everything, including taking care of having a marshal deliver the paperwork in the privacy of their office. That was huge, as I hated the idea of Max being served at his office.

Max was still very much in shock and denial when we first went to the mediators. I mean, he was still wearing his wedding ring. He was never much of a communicator, so not surprisingly he didn’t say much in the sessions. But I think it was very powerful to have us step through all of our finances and assets together. It was the uncomplicated, respectful way to handle things.

Money is one of the most hot button issues, and I can imagine how easy it could be in our situation to get really nasty and childish and nitpicky. I think keeping us in the same room made us both remember that we’re talking about the life we built together. Mediation helped us maintain respect for the choices we made over the three years we were married, and I’m proud of that. My hope is that mediation laid the foundation for what might eventually be a casual friendship with Max.

(In the meantime, let's hope this condo sells fast!)

Did you use mediation for your divorce? Was it the right choice?

Read more about mediation: There's No "Bad Guy" in a Good Divorce, Mediation Myths and Misunderstandings That May Affect Your Decisions in Divorce, and Choosing Between Mediation and Collaborative Divorce.


  1. Hey Kat, I’ve only seen and heard of few divorces that have gone as amicably as yours. Anyone would have found it weird that you and Max are getting on so well, but I guess that’s the benefit of having gone through mediation. All the pros and cons are presented to you by professionals who know what they’re talking about, which minimizes the opportunity of someone taking an advantage. Anyway, good luck on selling that condo and on developing a friendship with Max!

  2. Hi Lucas - Agreed. A year or two ago, if I'd seen a divorced couple cohabitating as pleasantly as Max and I are, I would've been baffled. If there's one thing divorce has taught me, it's to never judge or assume anything about other people's relationships!

  3. Whether it's the help of a lawyer or a mediator, it's nice to know that you didn't refuse to get some help. It's best to have somebody who can talk to both of you and help you understand your issues. They can give you the chance to spill all those hurt feelings towards your partner and, sometimes, try to resolve them. Well, you've been through a tiring process, and I do hope you'll stay strong as the days pass. :)

    Sammy Jackson @