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Divorce mediation: keys to making it work optimally

“Everything is relevant, and should be brought up.”

So says Michelle Rozen, a mediator and family law commentator in discussing divorce mediation, a proactive process that she tells participants will yield the best possible results if they approach it with energy and in good faith.

Many people in Florida and elsewhere find that out, just as many others learn that mediation is not producing optimal results in their divorce and is thus not for them.

As to what distinguishes one group from another, Rozen points to expectations and a certain mindset going into the process. If you’re not willing to bury the hatchet and communicate without overt hostility, mediation is decidedly not for you.

In other words, there is a reason that the courthouse exists, and there are many valid reasons why millions of divorcing couples opt for a litigated divorce. Admittedly, not all those couples are hostile. Sometimes it just takes a judge and a formalized atmosphere to work through matters such as child custody, alimony and property division.

When mediation clicks, though, it can offer many advantages for its participants, such as relative informality, cheaper costs, a fuller and more candid discussion of all relevant issues, party-tailored -- rather than judicially imposed -- solutions and more.

To fully benefit from those, Rozen merely counsels participants to prepare a bit in advance. Drop the rancor, she says, and focus on forward-thinking negotiations that bring about win-win solutions. Have financial documents well organized and in hand from the beginning. Note all questions and concerns and be sure to ask them and fully explore solutions with the mediator.

Mediation favors prepared, composed and informed participants. Coming ready and with a sense of equanimity about the process will go far toward ensuring an optimal outcome.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to prepare for your first mediation session -- your eight steps plan," Michelle Rozen, Oct. 17, 2013

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