6 Tips for Surviving Mediation

When you are going through a divorce, there are many decisions that need to be made. If you are getting divorced, then chances are that you aren’t communicating well with your spouse. These decisions need to be made and are hard to agree on if you aren’t able to communicate. Add in kids and possibly money and things get complicated.

Depending on where you are getting divorced, you might be required to go to mediation. At mediation, a mediator who is a completely neutral third party listens to both parties to determine what they want.

They make sure the demands are reasonable and you know, are within the law. Mediation can be a great way to come up with resolutions that both parties can agree on without having to involve the court system.

To be honest, I was skeptical about going to mediation. I had my reasons for this skepticism and they were warranted. There were child custody concerns, child support that needed to be discussed, and a marital asset dispute that needed to be addressed.

And because I had taken a protective order out against my husband which was right after I had fled with my daughter, communication had all but ceased.

But I happen to live in a place where you are required by law to attend mediation first before you can involve the courts. So, with uneasiness I attended mediation.

Usually, mediation is in person, but for me, it was scheduled to be by a Zoom call. Which made it cheaper so that was a plus, but made it slower (and mediation is usually slow, to begin with, and takes time.)

Now, with the help of a mediator and our lawyers, we were able to come up with resolutions to all of our problems. Was it easy? No. Was it long? Yes. It took 5 hours. (And 4 hours is considered to be the average.)

Would it have been possible without a mediator? I don’t think so because everything is so emotionally charged in a divorce case. Plus, there were domestic violence issues in my case.

I have been through mediation, so I would like to offer up some tips on how to get through it. Because it is emotionally and physically draining.  So here are 6 tips to surviving mediation.

Honestly, my head hurt from it until the end of the next day. (I think that’s normal? Well, if it is not and you do experience that then at least you will know that you are not alone.)


6 Tips for Surviving Mediation

1. Be Prepared for Emotion

6 Tips to Surviving Mediation - Woman Crying

I don’t know what will need to be discussed when you go to mediation. But whatever it is, know that emotion will probably surface and will catch you off guard if you aren’t aware it will happen.

This totally happened to me. When the mediator came back to talk to me and my lawyer after having spoken to my now ex-husband and his lawyer about the demands and things he wanted that had to do with our daughter, I got teary and tried desperately to fight back tears and emotion so they wouldn’t see. It didn’t work.

It’s okay if you cry. This is a difficult thing that you are doing. No matter what it’s not easy. So, be gentle on yourself. But know that emotion might happen.

2. Don’t Forget to Breathe

6 Tips to Surviving Mediation - Neon Sign that says Breathe

Now, this might seem strange. Or maybe it doesn’t. But this point relates to the last one.

When you are dealing with a lot of emotion, it is easy for your breath to become shallow or for some other change to take place. Deep breathing can reset your breath. It also clears your mind and helps you to process what you are being told.

3. Be Open

Mediation allows for creative solutions to be thrown out. They may seem wacky. Or maybe they are normal, but something you hadn’t thought about, so they are new and foreign.

Be open to these new ideas. They might not work out and you might be totally against them. But be willing to hear them out and mull them over before completely dismissing them. Because you never know what might be a possibility no one had thought of before.

4. Water and Snacks

6 Tips to Surviving Mediation - Water and Cookies

I don’t know what the policy will be if you have your mediation in person. But if snacks and water are allowed, then totally bring them. Remember when I mentioned that the average length of mediation is 4 hours long? That is a long time to go without water or snacks. If you are meeting by Zoom, then it might be easier to have snacks and water handy.

I would also say eat something before your mediation, but if your nerves are on edge like mine were, then eating was not an option. Hence, the snacks for later. Because sooner or later, your stomach will probably catch up with you and hunger will set in.

5. Give Yourself Time to Decompress Afterwards

6 Tips to Surviving Mediation - Woman Walking

Mediation is hard. Hard emotionally. You have to deal with things that may be in the past now but are still there. I had to face the abuse and violence in my marriage. It made it hard to want to see the future.

You have to deal with everything changing and being faced with a new normal. So, be kind to yourself and be aware of this. Allow yourself time to process. Take a walk. Close your eyes. Whatever will help you to clear your head enough to do those things that need to be done. Like picking up your kids.

I had nervous energy, even after it was done. (Pretty much, the entire day I was a nervous ball of energy.) So, I couldn’t eat. I realized a walk might help clear my head. So, I walked. I got to a place where I could go and talk to my parents who were watching my daughter and go pick her up.

6. Don’t Blame

It’s easy to want to blame the other person for what is happening. And honestly, it may be their fault that you need a divorce in the first place. Or maybe you blame yourself for needing mediation. Or for who knows what else. I get it. Blame is easy. But the blame doesn’t solve problems or get resolutions.

Final Thoughts

Mediation is a difficult experience to go through. (Well, divorce is difficult in general.) But with these tips, you will get through it. Remember to be kind to yourself and to give yourself the space you need to process everything.

Have you been to mediation? What tips do you have? 

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