When you and your spouse disagreed, you more than likely heard what they said, but may not have really listened. You aren't alone. Most people hear what the other party says in order to formulate a response, not necessarily to understand the other person's point of view, especially during an argument.
Even though you and your soon-to-be former spouse may now agree that divorce mediation is your best option, going into the process without making a commitment to really listen to the other party could doom it before it begins. Instead, each of you may need to work toward keeping an open mind, an open heart and open ears in order to make mediation work best for your situation.
The mediator's role when it comes to listening
Your mediator will more than likely help foster an atmosphere where each of you can really listen to the other. Not only do the two of you need to listen, but your mediator also needs to listen in order to help keep you on track and provide you with viable options that would work for your particular situation. He or she does this through the following actions:
- Encouraging each of you to speak uninterrupted and freely
- Listening with an open mind and heart
- Honoring each person's views regarding settlement
- Acknowledging trepidation about the future
- Requesting clarification when needed
The mediator will also provide the safety of expressing and facing the disappointment and hurt that led the two of you to this point without letting it break down negotiations. Divorce is an emotional experience, even if you pledge to remain amicable.
The mediator's role in helping you move forward
Instead of just pushing down your feelings, you need to be able to express them in a way that allows you to get them out without jeopardizing the goal, which is to create a mutually satisfactory settlement with which you both can live. The theory is that once each of you has your say, and the other really listens, you can move forward.
Thereafter, dealing with the creation of your settlement may be easier. The two of you can work together to find a solution to your issues that benefits everyone involved. This can be particularly beneficial if you have children who you will continue to parent together post-divorce. The foundation that you lay during mediation could help you reach a place where you can co-parent as a team.
Seeking legal support
Even though you have decided that mediation will work best for you, it does not mean that you won't need the advice and assistance of an attorney to help protect your rights and ensure that your settlement meets with the court's approval. As you resolve certain issues, it may prove invaluable to fully understand any legal or other ramifications of an agreement you are tempted to make. Using the Pennsylvania legal resources available to you could help provide you with the best agreement possible.