Mediation - what to expect?

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Mediation - what to expect?
« on: March 23, 2019, 09:10:30 PM »
Hi all, mediation is at the end of the week next week, as ordered by the court before trial.

A couple things: exBPDh still has not agreed to sign a release for his psych records, despite his psych being his "expert witness."

My lawyer asked for the parenting facilitator to have a conference with the mediator prior to our mediation, and ex's lawyer said he had no problem with that. This requires authorization forms filled out by both of us, which I sent in for my part. A few days later, ex's lawyer follows back up and says "I don't have a problem with it, but my client finds it unnecessary and doesn't want to pay for the expense, can you confirm your client will pay for it?"  :stars: :stars:

Of course I will, but I find it quite telling that he finds it to be financially responsible to sue me out of nowhere spending tens of thousands of dollars, but doesn't want to pay for a phone call so that the professional who has worked with both of us since before the divorce can speak to the mediator.

Any tips for mediation? From what I've been told, we start out in the same room while the mediator explains the process, then we move to different rooms where the mediator goes back and forth. Mediator can be shown evidence but can be instructed not to disclose the evidence, while still being able to offer a recommendation to the other side. With all my evidence, I'm hoping the mediator recommends that he and his lawyer not take this to court, of course, but who knows. Advice is appreciated!


Associate of Daniel

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Re: Mediation - what to expect?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 04:31:31 AM »
Just bumping this up for you, Anxious Mum.

I don't really have any advice about your specific situation, but hopefully someone else will.

I will say that mediation with pds in my country is a timewasting, stressful farce - but that's not helpful.

I really hope it goes well for you.




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Re: Mediation - what to expect?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2019, 11:25:28 AM »
For us it was separate rooms, with a retired Judge going back and forth between us. 

It's worth noting that Judge would enter my room with her fingers at her temples, chanting....
"Forget the best interest of the kids, forget the best interest of the kids."

The Courts aren't really good at helping the kids, IME.  They seem more about punishing everyone in the room for taking up their time.

Don't let everyone in the room pressure you into giving in on the things on your HAVE TO HAVE LIST.

On that note, it's good to know that everyone in the room MIGHT try pressuring you into giving in.  I've seen this happen when everyone realizes the PD won't give in on anything, so TAG, you're it.  You're the only way they can get through this, sans a trial, and clear their desks of your file.

Just make sure to have a very short list of what you HAVE TO HAVE, and be prepared to defend it calmly, always referring to the children's best interests, and putting safeguards in place, etc.  It;s difficult to shoot down your defenses when you're the only one advocating for the kids, IME.

About reaching an agreement at mediation....


Do not agree, then release the attorneys to "craft" an Agreement at their offices.  Usually one attorney is chosen to do that, then the both of them go back and forth bickering over details... it can cost thousands of dollars, take weeks, and THEN THE PD CAN REFUSE TO SIGN IT, which is a common PD tactic. 

Good luck,


What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
Eleanor Roosevelt


Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation - what to expect?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2019, 01:59:50 PM »
Hi anxiousmom, my H has been through mediation with his ex several times. Let's just say that I think even the best most calming professionals struggle to get a PD to come to the table in any sort of reasonable manner. So first of all, don't expect a miracle.

Second of all, from what H described, I was disappointed that the mediators didn't really offer any creative solutions, they seemed to just ferry messages back and forth. And his ex took a real "my way or the highway" approach. That means that if there's any compromise or common ground, you'll need to be the one to suggest it.

On some of the mediation sessions H didn't really take it seriously and I think that was a mistake. Despite everything I just said I would treat it like a real opportunity to come to some common ground. Even though his ex didn't concede on any of the points in the mediation, she later came around to a lot of them (some of them she proposed like it was her idea). I think hearing it from a mediator helped.

Overall, I would expect your ex to come in with some off the wall asks that you've never heard before. I would also expect that he's going to try to make the mediator think he's a reasonable person, and you might be able to use that to your advantage.

I think it's crucial, like hhaw said, to be really clear in your own head about your bottom line. Is it no overnights? Is it no unsupervised contact at all? (I'm assuming you won't agree to anything close to joint custody). Once you know that, you can come up with several proposals that a reasonable person in his position might be OK with. I'm a little at a loss for what that might be because I'm not totally clear on what he wants. (Maybe you're not clear on it either - if so mediation might be a good place to suss that out.) But you could come in with proposals like, visitation happens at a supervision center rather than your house. Or a new schedule that has him taking your son for slightly more time each week (but you ONLY stick to that schedule, no extra time). Or maybe you offer him some holiday time he didn't previously have. Or maybe he can have your son every Saturday afternoon for a preapproved outing that's not at his house. Be creative - what situations can you think of that would be OK for your son?

I would also come in with some requests of your own. Like, he needs to notify you a week in advance if he intends to take his visitation time. Or maybe YOU want the visits to happen at a visitation center so he's not in your home.

Here's a thought, and this might backfire so use your judgment: What is your child support situation? Can you ask that his child support go up? It's a somewhat sneaky way of threatening him, if he goes for custody you're going to try to get the child support you're owed. That's assuming, of course, that he isn't paying what he should be paying. If he's already paying enough child support I would NOT bring that up, because if his visitation increases child support will go down. And that'll just give him more incentive to try to take more time with your son.

One final piece of advice: I want to reiterate what hhaw said. Don't settle just because you're getting pressure to! KNOW your bottom line and stick to it. If he suggests something you're not sure about, it's OK to take time to think about it. The mediator can't MAKE you do anything and neither can your ex at this point. The most important goal is to not get steamrolled into a bad deal for your son.

This meeting might really suck, and I know how agonizing it is to prepare for stuff like this. But you can get through it just like you got through those previous court hearings!



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Re: Mediation - what to expect?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2019, 03:16:08 PM »
IME mediation with a PD doesn't work because PDs can't or won't compromise. And, if a PD does agree to something, it is only on his or her terms and he or she will break off the agreement as soon as possible or find a way to undermine it. I proposed mediation to my stbxh uocpd because I wanted to divorce amicably and was (naively) hopeful that we could come to an arrangement. Instead, almost a year was wasted while he bullied me in mediation (the mediators kept telling him to behave!) and at home.

Penny and HHaw gave some good advice and insights. I would add that you should know your bottom line and when to walk away because mediation is fruitless. Better yet, your mediator should be prepared to halt the process if (when) no agreement can be reached. Don't let your PD fool you into thinking an agreement is just around the corner - because it is not. And, if you get close he or she will move the goal post.



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Re: Mediation - what to expect?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2019, 11:45:19 AM »
Been to mediation twice with my ex.

1st time: General experience - we were both in the same room across the table from each other, with mediator on the end of the table to ask questions and guide discussion.  Results - We walked out with an agreement.  Later, he claimed I didn't compromise enough, and he backed out of said agreement... then we went to court with a full trial.   (and he got a worse deal than what we agreed to at mediation, and my life has been hell since)

2nd time:  General experience - we were in the same room, at same table, different mediator.  He only did it because the court order required it.  Literally said he wouldn't agree to anything there, and the only person he'll listen to is a judge and this was just a check in the box so he could take me to court.  (haha... .funny because he doesn't listen to judge either, but I digress).  Results - no agreement, outside of some smaller side issue not related to main reason for mediation.

My tips:
1. Next time (assuming there will be one) we have mediation, I'll be asking to be in different rooms if possible.  He baited me and I fell for it a couple of times.  Definitely got angry with his scoffing, mocking, demeaning behavior.
2. Come in with all documentation so you have it on hand - even have extra copies for your ex and the mediator so everyone can see the same info. 
3. Be focused on the goal.  Have a short list of what you're there to talk about, and don't allow yourself to get off topic.  Make sure both you and your ex, AND the mediator know what the topics are so that you don't get off topic too much.  Bring paper to take notes.  Don't allow yourself to feel rushed either.
4. Practice deep breathing techniques and all of the other things that keep you calm and as disconnected as possible emotionally.  Especially if you have to be in the same room, like I was.  If you do end up in the same room, know that you can ask to take a break or speak to the mediator one on one.
5. Have low expectations so you don't walk out disappointed.  I'm learning to expect my ex to act irrationally and to gaslight/rewrite history... now that I'm expecting it, I'm not so upset by it when it happens.  Mediation MAY end up with some kind of agreement, or it may not.  Or you May end up with agreement on some things, but not on others. 
6.  Understand mediation is not binding until the agreement is written and signed (hence, how my ex was able to back out).  YOU can also talk to your attorney after the mediation to discuss what happened, and make sure you are doing what is in your best interests as well.  I would advise not to sign anything (outside of like, confidentiality agreements or contract to pay mediator) until you've spoken with your attorney after the mediation.
7.  Stick to facts, and be careful of agitating your ex.  Keep what you say about your ex in control, and if he says things that are insane allegations against you as a person, let the facts speak for themselves.  Defend yourself factually and briefly, but try not to get emotional about it.   

Good luck.