Mediation is often an effective tool used to resolve problems and settle cases between divorcing spouses. It can shorten the divorce process, save money, and help lead to a peaceful resolution.

To ensure a successful mediation, participants should follow a few ground rules.

1. Refrain from Interruptions

Interrupting someone while they are speaking can lead to frustration and misunderstandings. Always listen to the other person and allow them to finish talking before offering a response.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Clarification

While you don’t want to be confrontational at any time during divorce mediation, you still want to ask for clarification if you are unclear about any aspect of the process. Asking an unassuming question is one example of a polite way to have the point clarified.

3. Listen without Overthinking

Mediation isn’t the time to try and figure out what the other party is thinking or planning. Instead, it’s an opportunity for open communication between everyone involved in the divorce.

4. Don’t Follow Your Emotions

A divorce can be an emotional and stressful experience, and emotions are often raw. Mediation allows you to calmly listen to each other in a safe environment. Mediation is a problem-solving tool that is only effective when you leave your emotions at the door.

5. Speak Respectfully 

Mediation will not lead to a divorce settlement agreement if either spouse is emotionally or verbally abusive during the sessions. Being respectful means no shouting, swearing, bullying, name calling, or disparaging.  

6. Take Breaks as Needed

Unlike court sessions where only specific individuals can request a recess, you can take breaks whenever necessary during a mediation. Taking a break can help you remain calm and ready to listen to your spouse. Always ask for a break before walking out the door to avoid sending the wrong message.

7. Focus on the Future

Focus on the issues you need to settle with your spouse for you each to move forward with your lives and raise the issues that led to your divorce only when constructive.

8. Don’t Be Rigid

Avoid taking inflexible positions.  If you’re rigid during mediation, the only way your case will settle is if your spouse agrees to exactly what you want, and that’s unlikely.  Do your best to consider multiple options for each of the questions that have to be answered in your case, and know that cases that settle most often involve each spouse accepting options with which they can live as opposed to ideal outcomes for each of them.

9. Be On-Time

Don’t be late for your mediation, as it can be viewed as a sign of disrespect. Arrive on time and ready to concentrate on what your spouse has to say.

10. Remember, the Mediator Cannot Give Legal Advice

Even though a mediator may be an attorney, that does not mean they are able to provide legal advice. As a neutral, a mediator is not permitted to provide more than legal information. They can tell you what the law says, what is typical, and even how a judge might rule, but they cannot tell you or your spouse what they think you should or should not do.