Divorce can be a costly affair – emotionally and financially – but it needn’t be. Through mediation, acrimony can be converted into cooperation, stalemate into resolution.
Breaking up is easy to do
Source: Family Life
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Divorce can be a costly affair – emotionally and financially – but it needn’t be. Through mediation, acrimony can be converted into cooperation, stalemate into resolution. For couples who choose mediation, there are many advantages. Agreements can be concluded in a matter of weeks, slashing legal costs. Stress can be greatly reduced, and the trauma for the whole family is lessened.
How do you make breaking up less traumatic?
For mediation to be successful, couples must share a willingness to reach a settlement. Partners sit together, with two mediators (one of them is usually an attorney by training, the other a social worker or psychologist), and discuss all issues involved, including custody, access, finance and property. Unlike the traditional method, which is more likely to exacerbate the hurt of a failed relationship, mediation has a therapeutic function, with a great deal of hand holding and panic abatement, which can aid the process of settlement. Getting the couples to talk and see each other’s viewpoints should ease the task of shared parenting in the future.
Divorce – Dissolve or Evolve
Divorce is a process that began when you realised that your marriage was unsatisfactory and that your partner was unable to meet your needs. When you realised that you and your partner were mismatched the emotional separation began. To complete the divorce there are two stages: the emotional separation and the legal divorce.
Common beliefs about divorce
- One partner is entirely to blame for the divorce.
- Divorce means that you have failed.
- Even a bad marriage is better for the children than a divorce.
- Divorce is always ugly or divorce can be painless.
- Divorce means that you are bad, mad or evil.
- After the legal divorce you should feel better.
Common feelings experienced
Whether the divorce is of your choosing or not, most people experience a sense of loss and abandonment. Associated with the loss of your spouse may be other losses of your home, of your physical and material security, of friends and family. You may experience a whole range of feelings.
· Disbelief that the divorce is actually happening.
- Anger at your spouse and anger at the whole world.
- Sadness and yearning for your former partner and bouts of crying and sobbing.
- Fear that you will not be able to manage on your own financially and emotionally and fear that others will reject you.
- Guilt that you are a bad person and bad parent for causing so much pain.
- Feeling sorry for yourself.
- A sense that you have failed your children, parents and friends.
- Hatred and revenge – that you will get even.
- Blame yourself for the marital problems and even for marrying him/her.
The legal divorce
Once you have decided to divorce and all your possible alternatives for maintaining the marriage have been explored you need to begin the legal process. There are three different ways to do this.
The do-it-yourself divorce: can only work if you have few assets, no children and can talk to each other and reach an agreement. Most bookshops sell a do-it-yourself divorce manual. The Registrar of the Supreme Court can be approached directly for the issuing of the summons. The summons will be issued to the defendant and after the requisite number of days a date is set for court. To finalise your divorce you have to appear before a Supreme Court Judge.
Mediation: is a useful option if you both want to reach a settlement that is as fair as possible and if you can still communicate honestly without too many recriminations. A trained mediator, who is an independent person, can help you to draw up a written agreement detailing the settlement. Your attorneys prior to the court proceedings can then review this document. Again summons is issued and a date for a court hearing is arranged.
An attorney: will explain your legal rights and assist you in fighting for the settlement you desire. Your partner would usually need to be represented by his/her own attorney and the attorneys would then try to reach agreement on your behalf. If the two parties cannot reach agreement the Supreme Court Judge will decide on your behalf what the settlement should be.
The children’s experience
For most adults there has been a time for preparation for the divorce, but for many children the divorce comes as a shock. How children react to divorce is dependent on their age, personality and a sense of self-worth. Children experience similar emotions to their parents but in addition fear that they might have caused the divorce. They remain concerned about the non-custodian parent.
Helping the children:
- Teach your children that the changed family is not a disaster but a difficulty that can be overcome.
- Allow the other parent to share the responsibility of parenting. You do not have to be super-mom/dad.
- Don’t use the children as an emotional crutch, they cannot solve your emotional problems.
- Don’t use the children in your battle with your ex-spouse.
- Allow your children to maintain their relationships with your ex-spouse’s family.
- Encourage your children to maintain their relationship with their non-custodian parent.
What to do
- Accept that this is how you are feeling.
- Allow yourself to mourn the death of your marriage.
- Own your feelings so that after an appropriate time you can let them go.
- Take control over your feelings rather than allowing them to control you.
- Try to accept that both of you share responsibility for the marital breakdown.
- Allow your family to share your emotions and to have their own.
- Comfort them and allow them to comfort you.
- Try to think of the long-term consequences of the divorce agreement and negotiate the settlement accordingly.
- Take responsibility for reaching an agreement which best meets your interests.
The option of counselling
Every period of adjustment comes with its problems and if you would like to talk about these changes, counselling is available. Counselling is a process that involves mutual acceptance, respect, and confidentiality. Family Life Centre offers individual, couple and group counselling.
Mediation is used by divorcing couples who deplore the prospect of a court fight or of allowing the mechanics and biases of the legal system to make binding decisions about their future. These kinds of couples want professional guidance in order to maximise their input into the separation agreement Even when mediation does not result in an actual agreement, many couples will have developed a greater ability to cooperate and compromise through attorney negotiations.
The role of the mediators
Mediators do not make decisions. Instead their job is to:
- Impart a knowledge of family law
- Consider the NEEDS of each family member
- Get both spouses to discuss their objectives
- Bring all the facts out into the open