This is NOT your typical blog post about why to use a mediator…this is my personal story about how an amicable divorce is possible. (Written by Kelly Shaw, Mediator)
If you Google “reasons to use a divorce mediator,” you will get thousands of results. Luckily, most of them will have the same answers and give you a list of reasons. But how do you really know if these reasons are valid? Although they can be helpful and give good insights and facts, they are really just ideas from different sources. So I am here to tell you my story…my reasons why using a divorce mediator was the best option – and how it led me to become a divorce mediator!
I admit my ex and I have always been amicable. I am one of the lucky ones where we were able to acknowledge and accept that our marriage had come to an end. Nothing nefarious had gone on, and neither of us blamed the other. Simply put, we got married young and just grew apart. Thankfully, our respect for each other remained so we could move through the divorce process together.
I can’t say we didn’t have negative emotions, but we decided to end things together, on our terms and in our own way, by using a divorce mediator. We didn’t want a drawn-out, expensive, ugly end to what was a huge part of our lives. We agreed that lawyers and the court would just make things more difficult and complicated for us and our son. We wanted to remain true to each other and ourselves. Using a divorce mediator helps make this possible. While it’s not always this easy, even people in contentious relationships can benefit from using a divorce mediator.
Keep reading for my personal story and the benefits I saw from using a divorce mediator.
I decided to start with this reason because I feel it is one of the best outcomes (if not the best) a divorce can have. I spent almost 20 years, including most of my college days, with my spouse. We also have a son together. We knew each other better than anyone and had experienced so much together so I was glad to know I could still count on him.
Using a divorce mediator made remaining friends so much easier. One reason is that we were in charge. We decided when and how often we would meet. It was up to us to make the decisions on our divorce, and it was on our timeline. We also created the divorce agreement. It was our mutual conclusion as to child support and other finances, the house, and most importantly the parenting plan. We controlled the narrative and outcome.
This allowed us enough space to lead us to a good ending. I can’t imagine having to find a divorce lawyer – how do you even start? Plus, all the back and forth between lawyers must make a person exhausted, frustrated, and bitter, right? It could easily build a wall between two people and defenses would be high. But going through the divorce with a mediator helped us realize we really had each other’s backs.
Did remaining friends simply happen? I have to be honest -- not exactly. It took work, on both of our parts, to get where we are today. In fact, it started off well right after we split. I think that happens when you are so used to talking to and leaning on someone. We still wanted to be there for each other and our son, and we were.
But then it got a little rocky, as can be expected when you both try to move on. I would often think -- this is what I wanted, right? Navigating so many new things like single parenting, work, bills, and even dating was difficult. But eventually, we settled into our new, separate lives and were able to gain a new-found normal. I am so happy that we can have birthday parties and other celebrations for our son together. We can even chat about the little things. Believe me, that makes life so much easier!
Another reason I was thankful to use a divorce mediator was we were able to help create the agreement in real-time, together. My spouse and I went back and forth directly with each other and figured out the best situation for both of us. We did this during the actual mediation meetings and afterward on our own. Sometimes we would get “homework” to do in-between appointments, so I felt ready and prepared for the next session. There were zero surprises.
Creating the agreement together also gave me peace of mind because I also knew that my spouse agreed. I didn’t have to wait to hear back on a settlement from my lawyer who got it from his lawyer who got it from my spouse… see how crazy and unmanageable things can get? I think this would have caused a lot of anxiety and stress.
This one may sound obvious. I mean, how else would a divorce mediator talk? But I wanted to point this out because it really made a difference in our overall divorce experience. It was nice to know that when we sat down with her, we would be having a conversation, not getting lectured. She listened and responded appropriately. We were at the same level, sitting at a table, simply talking.
If you go through the courts and lawyers, conversations become much more difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. At the end of a mediation session, we were in a good place, feeling productive and in-control of our agreements. Our divorce mediator was friendly and calm and really wanted the best for both of us.
She also made us feel lucky – lucky to be in a good place with each other and where we were heading. She also gave us some perspective about our situation and advice about the future. You would not get that in a courtroom! She shared that we were fortunate that our son loved to play sports year-round. She pointed out that we both would always be able to see him, even on “off” weekends and days because fields and courts were public, and it did not matter whose “day” it was. It’s a fun environment where you can both cheer for the same team and of course – your child(ren)! This has helped us over the years to keep a great co-parenting relationship.
I’m happy to say that I didn’t come out of this process bitter and angry. Sure, there were still a lot of emotions, highs, and lows, but I was able to remain myself and not get lost in the ugly side of divorce.
With mediation, communication is easier. We could just talk to each other and come to an agreement and move on to the next issue or topic to discuss. This led to a better relationship post-divorce. In fact, we were so comfortable that we drove to our mediation sessions together!
You may not think of this one as a reason, but it truly was. Don’t underestimate how nice it was to sit in a neutral, calm, non-threatening, non-contentious place to meet. The office was welcoming and quiet. It was just the three of us, (me, my spouse, and the mediator). There were no other lawyers, paralegals, assistants, or clients milling around. Instead, we were very comfortable going there and knew what to expect.
This would also hold true with the more modern way to have a divorce mediation session – via video. Sitting in your own space, with surroundings you are comfortable with, can help encourage open and honest conversations with your spouse.
If you’re still reading this post, it’s probably obvious that I’m very happy my ex and I were able to use a mediator. I wanted to write this post so you could understand that an amicable divorce is possible with mediation. Divorce doesn't have to mean a long, contentious court battle.
Both of us, and our son, are better off for having a quick and amicable divorce. It was such a good experience that I decided to take mediation training, so I could help others as well. I hope you decide to use a mediator, too. You, your spouse, and your entire family will be better off in the long run.
Let me help you. When you’re ready, or if you want more information, please contact me. I can be reached at [email protected] or 216.503.7532.
Here are some other blog posts that you may find helpful.
This post was written by Kelly Shaw. Kelly is a Mediator for Great Lakes Divorce Financial Solutions. As a Mediator, she specializes in divorce and parenting issues such as custody, visitation, schooling, and other major concerns or disputes.