May 12, 2020

Why mediation works – and how to prepare for it

In any conflict, it’s likely that those involved will feel angry, hurt, sad, and resentful. It’s easy for these emotions to get the better of us, and cause us to lash out at the other person. At the end of the day, though, that doesn’t solve anything, and an acrimonious divorce can ruin the happy memories of the relationship shared and make it tricky to maintain any sort of relationship going forward, which makes things particularly difficult if there are children involved.

If you and your partner have decided on a divorce, mediation is an amicable, dignified solution to ending the relationship in a way that leaves both of you satisfied with the outcome. It avoids litigation proceedings that can often become drawn-out, expensive, and stressful. 

Here’s what to expect during mediation, and how to prepare for it. 

1. Embrace the Process

It sounds simple, but it’s true. Couples who enter mediation with a positive, respectful and rational mindset, and a desire to end the relationship in such a way that both partners (and their children!) win, are better able to work with the mediator to resolve issues and come to an agreement. 

2. Make Informed Decisions

The mediator will provide you with information and resources regarding the choices you will be making together, as well as different options to consider.

With his or her help, each partner will have the space to say what outcomes they expect or hope for. In best case scenarios, the mediator will facilitate negotiation proceedings in such a way that they leave with exactly that. If not, mediation still allows each partner to participate in negotiations, and ensures a fair outcome. 

This mostly includes equitable distribution of both assets and debts, depending on your marriage contract, as well as living arrangement agreements and maintenance support if the couple has children. 

3. Come to a Clear, Fair Agreement

When the mediation process is done well, each partner feels that they have been treated fairly and respectfully by the other. When the couple comes to an agreement that is in both of their best interests, and that they are both happy with, the mediator draws up a Memorandum of Understanding, which acts as the separation agreement. Once a judge signs it, the divorce proceedings are finalised – while honouring the intentions and affections of the original relationship.  The outcome is determined by the couple; not imposed upon them by a court. 

While mediation is popular for couples ending their relationship, it is a vehicle that may provide an effective solution to any dispute or conflict, between family members, neighbours, business partners and co-workers – indeed, any setting in which conflict may occur. We encourage our clients to approach mediation as the first step in resolving conflict to avoid litigation, which so often becomes costly and acrimonious, and destroys relationships that otherwise might be restored. 

If you believe you would benefit from mediation, feel free to contact our office on 011 347 0300 or info@lawmen.co.za.

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