Conflict is hard on people; family conflict especially so. No one who has been through separation or divorce would deny the grief and anxiety it can cause. Well-meaning friends will offer advice, or stories they’ve heard about someone else they know. Let your friends be supportive, and take their support; but for legal advice, take your legal advice from a family law practitioner. If you have children, keep them first and foremost in your mind.
“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them;
sometimes they forgive them.”
Once your children are adults, how do you want them to describe the story of their parents’ separation and/or divorce?
I have been practicing in the area of family law for 34 years. All of those years I have acted as litigation lawyer, 30 of those years as a mediator, and 16 of those years as a collaborative lawyer. I am often retained by people whose parents went through a divorce. Their stories are interesting. Often I hear “I told my spouse I went through hell when my parents divorced, and I do not want that for our children”.
It is also not uncommon for people to be concerned about the cost of litigation. If they’ve experienced litigation, they know the costs are not just in dollar terms, but include the cost of tremendous stress, and uncertainty. It does not have to be that way. There are alternatives to court.
Separation and divorce does not have to be a war or duel. The traditional law suit does make it a war. If you’ve seen pictures of children in war zones, you know it’s not pretty. After it’s over, you then have the task of parenting with the other parent –sometimes for years to come. Litigation can make that parenting relationship even worse than it was before.
So, if you don’t go to court, but recognize you might miss something important if the two of you try to sort things out things out on your own, then what are your choices? This article provides information about mediation. Also watch for articles about collaborative process, which may be the right option for you. Both mediation and collaborative divorce give you control over the outcome and seek to maximize outcomes for your family.
There are a number of qualified Mediators in Saskatchewan who could be contacted. Generally the two of you would agree on a Mediator and share the costs. Conflict Resolution Saskatchewan is an organization which lists qualified mediators, where they are located, and something of their background. See https://conflictresolutionsk.ca/directory/ or check yellow page ads of lawyers in your community to see who provides mediation services.
Mediation is a process in which an impartial third party would help you and your spouse discuss your concerns, and then help you work toward a fair, realistic solution. Participation can be voluntary. In Saskatchewan we now have mandatory mediation in family law matters going to court. This is very new.
This article is about voluntary mediation but does largely apply to mandatory mediation. The Mediator does not decide the outcome of the dispute – the two parents do. You have control over the outcome. The mediator can help to maximize outcomes, including preserving family wealth.
Mediation is based on a cooperative approach to problem solving. With the help of a mediator, you both look at attacking the problems to be resolved, not attacking each other. The mediator will coach you to help each of you focus on staying away from blaming or attacking each other.
It’s easy to slip into old communication patterns, but now it will be essential to learn and model a more effective way to talk to each other. Again, if you have children or people in your extended family you love, this is a wonderful gift to them. You will have lots of help.
Mediated agreements tend to succeed over time because they result from a process that each of you took part in, and because each of you helped to create the solution. Mediation can work in most situations where there is mutual willingness between the two of you to:
1) participate in discussion, and
2) resolve the issues.
The focus is on helping the two of you explore as many options as possible. We are problem solving and helping the two of you to learn how to do this together in at least a business-like fashion. It is particularly valuable when there is an ongoing relationship between the two parties –your relationship now may be centered on co-parenting. You may have a good relationship with your spouse’s family, and want to preserve that.
Are you concerned you don’t have the information you need to make a good financial decision? A Mediator helps the two of you explore and understand the issues, make informed decisions and work toward reaching a mutually beneficial outcome for your children. The mediator will help you get the information you need to help with your decisions. The mediator does not make decisions for you. You will have a lawyer review any written agreement before either one of you signs it.
Call us to explore how our mediators can help your family to transition to two households, and a more peaceful future.