4 Questions to Determine if Mediation is Right for You

{2:51 minutes to read} The decision to divorce initiates a series of many challenging and difficult decisions, often starting with: What do I do now? What are the right questions to ask? Is divorce mediation right for me?

The following four yes/no questions provide a guide for determining if the mediation process is the right fit given an individual’s desires, abilities, and family circumstances.

1. Do you think you know what is best for your family, or can you recognize it if you see it?

For those that answer “yes,” divorce mediation is likely a good fit. Divorce mediation works for those who feel that they have an innate sense of what is best for the family. If you feel you need someone to consult with every step of the way, mediation might not be for you.

2. Are you willing to make your own decisions about your future?

If the answer is “yes,” then both parties can do well in the mediation process. Mediation requires that both people take responsibility and ownership over the decisions (individually and collectively with the soon-to-be-ex spouse) and fashion a settlement that is aligned with both perspectives.

3. Are you capable of understanding the financial information and the implications of various financial options if they’re explained to you?

You may be thinking that a finance background or financial sophistication is required for mediation—it’s not! It is, however, important to be able to understand the mediator, attorney, or financial advisor’s explanations as well as their explanations of the implications of any potential decision. A “yes” to this question indicates that a person has a sufficient understanding (and is comfortable taking ownership of) their financial reality.

4. Can you, and do you want to, speak up for yourself in the presence of your spouse with the assistance of the mediator?

Mediation isn’t another forum for soon-to-be-ex spouses to repeat the same argument…the purpose is to work through the conflict together. Parties that can speak up and speak their truth—especially about the issues that are most important—can work towards a resolution in mediation with the help of the mediator.

This is not to say that the sessions are easy or fun; in fact, they can be painful. Still, negotiating an agreement together (as opposed to speaking through attorneys), offers the parties the ability to have a shift in conversation and to process the story of their marriage differently. This process often ultimately leads to feelings of empowerment.                                           

The purpose of these questions is to help divorcing individuals to proactively discern the right path for themselves and the best first steps.