1. You are in mama/dada grizzly mode. This means you’re in the mode to run over anyone who is at all threatening your concept of how your parenting plan should be structured. In other words, you’re leading with your emotions and not your head. You need a process that will let everyone cool down, be rational, and think about consequences.
2. Your judge will create a parenting plan that you will hate. Family court judges have huge caseloads and don’t have time to learn all the details of your and your child’s lives. Which is why so many orders contain the same visitation plans (every other weekend and one night per week). Your child deserves a customized plan.
3. Cold hard cash. In case you didn’t notice, everything in the divorce comes down to money. If you mediate, you’ll spend thousands and thousands less. – Which means you have a greater chance of actually getting as much money in the divorce as you think you deserve.
4. If you move forward in hate, everything will be harder. You might not hate each other, but, man, you are still ticked off. It’s really hard to parent with someone you can’t even talk to. So it’s time to figure out how you’re going to push that stuff to the side and move forward.
5. Your kids are watching you. It’s time to walk the walk after you’ve talked the talk all these years about forgiveness, civility, doing unto others, and walking away from fights. You’re the role model and how you handle the biggest conflict of your life influences them deeply.
6. Silence is not golden. If you are headed for court your attorney does all the talking – in negotiation with the other attorney, at hearings, with experts, and finally, at trial. You sit with your arms crossed and your lips pursed, realizing that no one in the room is really getting your exact point of view. In mediation, you do the talking.
7. You need a rulebook. You and your ex are going to be parents together FOREVER. You will never be rid of each other, so you need to teach yourselves how to talk about the parenting issues you’re going to have to work through. Mediation gives you strategies for resolving future conflict on your own.
8. When it’s not a contest, people give in easier.
It’s a lot easier to concede that the other person might be right when you don’t have two lawyers, a judge, a court reporter, a bailiff and a court clerk staring at you. Trials can turn into a pissing match. Mediation makes it a joint endeavor where you’re trying to work together to come up with a plan.
9. Time is ticking. Want to take lots of time off work for court hearings and trials? Probably not. Do you want to be stuck in temporary order purgatory for months while your case wends its way through the justice system? Doubtful. Mediation lets you move forward on your timeline.
10. Big decisions should require big thought. Custody is probably the most important part of your divorce. It matters. So you really should spend some time talking about it, considering options, and brainstorming. Your kids will thank you.