1. No fault divorce means No fault mediation. The mediator really, really, really doesn’t care who hurt who more (I sort of thought she’d at least be curious). She’s not a therapist and she’s not going to advise or counsel on matters beyond the logistics of the divorce agreement (I sort of thought we could submit complaints and she’d rule on who’s out of line). There will be no telling the sordid tale or winning her empathy, sympathy or approval. We have to start from now, sweep the past under our own little rugs, suck it up and forge ahead.
2. The mediator will not help very much with the “how” in determining what’s fair, rather just the “what”. Meaning, for example, the ex and I have to figure out how to catalog and assess the value of our property and how to agree on a separation date. We have to do our own homework and make our own decisions as to how things proceed.
3. Stuff is just Stuff. No way in hell is it worth the cost in time and dollars to sort through every item ever acquired. I’d rather save money and my sanity than argue over piddly crap.
4. Winning the battle in mediation doesn’t mean you’ve won shit. Today, in mediation, I could see my ex’s glee when he took a couple digs at me that seemed to prove I’m an asshole. I’m just as guilty of reveling in my moments of rightness but when we walked away from our meeting, there was no winner. It occurred to me that there will be no winner at the end of this
war negotiation. We’re just slowly and methodically deconstructing our marriage and when it’s over, we hopefully walk with a fair amount of pieces but nothing close to wholeness (though I do believe the wholeness will be reconstructed, in time, separately).
5. This shit is sad sad sad. Just when you think you’ve reached full acceptance, you’re sitting in an office giving your children’s names and ages to a neutral party who is writing on a yellow legal pad. And you want to say, no, these are MY children, extra special children, not just THE children. But, you just state the facts ma’am and force back tears.
6. Speaking of tears. Keep them to a minimum. Emotion is really uncomfortable for some people, even mediators. I got a little teary eyed at one point and had to reassure the mediator that emotions will happen and it’s okay, we can keep going. Seriously, I can’t be the only person who gets a little weepy when discussing uprooting children and the “reality of the situation.” Our mediator was great overall and I appreciated her sensitivity but if she’s gonna worry about me every time I cry a little, we’re going to have to call in Dr. Phil. Overall though, you’ve got to be stoic and show a tremendous amount of restraint to stay focused and get the job done.
7. Women don’t automatically hate women. Okay this seems obvious but I must admit, I was totally terrified of hiring a female mediator. I assumed that since I spent many years as a stay at home mom, she would judge me since she’s clearly a career woman. I also thought my ex could charm her like he did our marriage counselor years ago. But, I was wrong. This woman was so close to neutral. In fact, the male mediator we met with once last year, was much more intimidating. So, all in all, it’s the individual mediator, not the gender that matters. Duh!!!!
8. The retainer aint gonna cut it. Yeah, the retainer covers 5 hours. If my ex and I took 4 years to show up at the table, there’s no chance in hell we’re going to sort the dissolution of our long term marriage out in 5 hours!!!
9. Silence is golden. Well, at least it’s mandatory. Standard mediation agreements apparently include a confidentiality clause. So, I’m pretty sure that’s going to hinder my further documenting my mediation process online. But I haven’t signed the thing yet, thus I’m imparting what I can now. Hopefully, maybe, blogging is an exception but I’ll have to research that. Anyway, you have to go through all the craziness of mediation and NOT talk about it?! How many people have broken rule #9??? I’d venture to guess, EVERY person who has ever mediated!
10. The mediator will break pretty much any rule, upon request, for about $450 an hour. So if you really, really, really want to tell her about who left the cap off the toothpaste or who forgot an anniversary, she’ll be happy to listen, it’ll just cost ya.