Can Mediation Work if You Don’t Trust Your Spouse?

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Couple looking angrily at each other during a conversation with a mediator

It’s a fair question.

If your relationship was overflowing with trust, perhaps one or both of you wouldn’t want a divorce. But though trust issues can certainly doom a marriage, they don’t necessarily mean the end of the mediation process.

Every day, people who don’t want to be married anymore, who may even truly despise each other, are able to successfully come to an agreement they both can live with, and that allows them to end their marriage as amicably as possible. How do they do this? Here are two ways:

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Most people who pursue mediation do so to minimize the impact on their family, especially on children. They realize that, even in divorce, they’re going to have to keep working together to raise their children, or to run a business, or to engage in other shared activities, and they want to make the next chapter of their lives as pleasant as possible. By focusing on the outcome they hope to achieve, divorcing couples are able to look past their disagreements and distrust and focus on finding an arrangement that allows them to live in harmony with their ex.

Trust, But Verify

That was Ronald Reagan’s famous reply when he was asked to describe his philosophy in negotiations with the Soviet Union. And, the dissolution of a marriage can indeed feel like a cold war.

Often, one party distrusts the other because that person felt kept in the dark on financial matters. In mediation, both people must agree to disclose all financial information. The mediator makes sure that both people have and understand all the financial information and can ask any questions they may have. Seeing and understanding financial information often alleviates trust issues related to money.

Even when the reason for the distrust in a relationship is not related to money, many people find that using a trust-but-verify approach helps them in mediation, because the information they receive verifies what the other person is saying.

A Neutral Third Party is Present

Finally, the mediator will be there to guide both of you and to guide the process. This means that, while in an inter-personal argument, you only had your word against your spouse’s, in mediation, you have a mediator there as a neutral third party. Your mediator is as interested as you are in discovering the truth and brokering a deal and will not choose a side.

If you are considering divorce mediation or have any other questions about family law, contact us today.

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