Should Couples Negotiate between Divorce Mediation Sessions?

couple arguing

Sometimes negotiation between spouses outside of divorce mediation sessions is a bad idea.

Everyone is anxious to move through the mediation process quickly. It is natural to want to get this interim period over with. It might also seem that negotiating outside of mediation will save some money. Yes and no, for several reasons: Mediation should be an orderly process. All of the requisite information should be gathered before decisions are made. When couples try to “put the cart before the horse” by deciding who will keep certain assets before valuing and considering all of the assets, an injustice might be done. Someone might be shortchanged. The decisions about asset division should also be considered together with support decisions, not in a vacuum.

Negotiations without a divorce mediator may be unfair.

Spouses often have different skill levels when it comes to financial issues. A savvier spouse might convince a less savvy spouse to accept a disadvantageous offer. Spouses also may have unequal bargaining power for emotional reasons. A mediator will be able to help level the playing field for more equitable negotiations. Legal information may be missing. There may be legal implications to the decisions you are making of which you may not be aware. Some decisions have significant tax consequences. Some decisions may be contrary to what typically happens in divorce in your jurisdiction. While you are free to disregard the information about how an issue would likely be decided in court, it is generally a good idea to have that information for consideration.

Hostilities might increase.

While some couples can discuss the issues raised in divorce mediation outside of session, other couples find themselves arguing and increasing the tensions at home. If you find that discussing your divorce at home makes home life unpleasant, save your conversations for the safe space of the mediation session.

Give it some thought.

If you can talk with your spouse about how things might be fairly decided, go ahead and have the conversation. If you do, try to consider these decisions tentative until you discuss them in your divorce mediation. Be open to reconsidering issues based upon new information the mediator may provide. If your conversations become heated, or feel threatening, save them for mediation. Be patient. The money saved by potentially shortening the divorce mediation process may not be worth it

About Vicki Volper

I am a divorce attorney in Westport who empowers people to divorce in a manner that maintains their dignity, preserves their assets and protects their children.
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