Separation and divorce can be highly emotional situations that can often cause people not to be at their best when communicating and negotiating with each other. While some disagreements and angry outbursts may not be prevented, there are techniques and tactics that can be used to minimize them and hopefully work toward a smoother outcome. Here are some possibilities to consider when entering the separation and divorce process.

What Steps Can Individuals Take on Their Own to Avoid or Resolve Conflict During Separation or Divorce?

There are several things individuals can try to do on their own to make separation or divorce proceed more smoothly.

  • Written communication. If talking face-to-face with the other partner leads to heightened emotions and outbursts that are later regretted, consider communicating in writing. When writing, whether letters, emails, or texts, take time to review what you’ve written before sending. If necessary, leave it until the following day. Look at the tone and if there are any potential comments that might raise conflicts. When in doubt, ask your attorney to review anything you’ve written for unintentional slights or for the possibility of being negatively misinterpreted.
  • Check your social media. It’s best not to be connected with the person you’re separating from, and it might be a good idea to make all your profiles private. But the biggest thing you can do is not post anything about the separation or divorce on social media until it’s completed. If one partner makes negative comments about the other, it’s possible that could be used against them. Better to say nothing at all and ask friends and family members to do the same.
  • Consider seeking help and support. Because separation and divorce can bring up many emotions, having a therapist or counselor, such as a religious leader, help you through those emotions could prevent communications or refusals to negotiate that could still the process.

What if None of Those Steps Work?

If both parties have tried to communicate and negotiate calmly and without contention, but the process has devolved on one side or the other (or both), it might be time to work with a mediator. Your attorney can advise you on how to find a mediator who will act as a neutral third party.

It’s crucial to understand that neutral role. Your attorney is working on your behalf to ensure the divorce ends with the best possible outcomes for you. They can help you negotiate with the soon-to-be ex but with the goal in mind. A mediator doesn’t represent either side. It’s also not something Illinois courts always mandate, although they can if court proceedings stall out (especially around issues involving children). Instead, the couple chooses this route because things have become so complex, and they’re interested in resolving things without having the court do it for them–which can be time-consuming and expensive.

What Does a Mediator Do in a Separation or Divorce Negotiation?

The mediator is hired (and there is an expense for this, but it’s often much less than the couple would pay in legal fees if they go through a protracted court proceeding) and acts as a third party with no interest in benefiting either side in particular. Each partner still works with their own attorney, who represents them directly.

Mediators are trained to handle the complex parts of family law and are often family law attorneys or former family court judges. They’re also trained in advanced dispute

How mediation is handled may vary from case to case. In general, once a mediator has been selected, they’ll ask each partner for various documents and pieces of information to determine what’s at stake. When meeting for the mediation sessions, the partners may be in separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between them.

The mediator may opt to help the parties negotiate some of the less-fraught issues before tackling the more divisive topics. They’ll listen to each side, help guide negotiations, and suggest options the partners may not have thought of.

If the couple comes to an agreement through mediation, the details will be drafted into a settlement agreement, which both partners sign and then present to the court to complete the divorce.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

There are many benefits, including:

  • Privacy. Mediation negotiations are confidential, unlike divorces going through the courts, which become part of the public record.
  • Often less costly than court proceedings.
  • The partners have more control over how the process works and what the outcome will be than they would have if it’s left to the courts.
  • Unlike the court, the mediator can’t force someone to do something. Instead, they’ll try to guide each partner into becoming more collaborative and make compromises.

What Should I Do if I Want to Modify Part of My Divorce Arrangements?

Call the Law Offices of Robert Buchanan at 312-757-4833 for a no-obligation free consultation. Divorce is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events, and it’s not surprising when disagreements can make the process contentious. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable divorce attorneys can help guide you through the necessary negotiations and discussions and provide advice on how to manage the divorce with as little emotional upheaval as possible.