DEAR ELIZABETH: I am about to get an attorney and file for divorce, but I do not want to file first, I would like to mediate first but my ex does not want to go to a mediator. He is so upset that I want a divorce, but he cheated on me. I do not want to fight with him and I want to make sure he is involved in the kids life. He seems to want to fight, I just want to move on without fighting and losing money. What can I do?
~MOVE ON MOM
DEAR MOVE ON MOM: Mediation only works when both parties agree to participate in the process. Many times especially in the beginning of a divorce separation, the opposing party is operating from a hurt position or perspective, which means anything the other party suggests is viewed as negative and in manipulation. I often have to remind the parent who desires mediation to be understanding and recognize the perspective of the opposing party and not to take it personally. You can only control your thoughts and recognize that they have every right to make their own choices. I also often tell parties going through the process that you do not want to be in a forced mediation. Allow the other party to reflect and come to their own desire to mediate.
Now if you attempted to speak with him and he did not listen, do not be afraid to contact a facilitative mediator and ask them to reach out to him and attempt to speak with him about scheduling mediation. A good mediator will take the time to explain what mediation is and the process, so that he can make an informed decision before he is forced to follow orders in family court. Just know if you do have to move forward with filing for divorce, most family courts will order mediation after the filing. So you may end up in mediation regardless, but do not be surprised if he never has the desire to mediate. Many parents choose to fight in court and regret thousands of dollars later. If you decide not to worry about his decision to mediate then you are free to focus and prepare for what is to come. So you need to prepare for court. Research a good attorney, learn the family court system, schedule to speak with a Family Court Ombudsman to learn resources and tools that are available for you as you go through the process. I also believe in the power of prayer!