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Mediation: Getting along with your ex

Mediation gives you and your spouse a chance to work on your divorce agreement in a controlled setting where you make your own decisions. This can help keep your case out of court, where a judge will make a ruling. While trial cases are sometimes helpful, they do turn that control over to the judge, and you then have to follow the court order. With mediation, you can retain control and find the appropriate solution -- within the bounds of the law, of course -- along with your ex.

Naturally, though, this means that you and your ex have no choice but to get along and work together. That's not always so easy. You're in the midst of a rather emotional situation. You may not be on the best of terms. One of you may feel angry about the divorce. It's complicated.

If you want to get the most out of mediation, you need to take the time to think about how you can keep your relationship civil and really work to get along during the process. Here are a few tips:

1. Talk through the reasons for the split

Talking about why you got the divorce can help clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings. It can give you both some clarity. You don't have to try to fix the relationship, but you can both understand why and how it got to this point. That can often make it easier to accept. This takes some of the animosity out of it and helps you see that, since it is happening, it's in both of your best interests to work together.

2. Take your time

Don't expect to have this talk right away. It may take some time. It's good to have this downtime. You don't want to start this process when you're feeling angry or otherwise emotional. If it takes a bit to get there, that's all right. Step back, wait until you both have had time to process it on your own, and then approach things from a logical point of view. If you find that mediation gives you some serious advantages, that's worth considering, even when you technically wanted your marriage to last.

3. Alter the way you communicate

One key thing to do is to think about how you talk to each other. You may want to change your communication style. Here are three things to do:

  1. Instead of making statements and demands, ask questions and make requests.
  2. When you feel frustrated and angry, try not to show it.
  3. At all times, keep your voice at a soft, controlled level. Imagine, if it helps, that you're in a business meeting.

Doing this can help you and your ex get along, and that allows you to explore all of the legal options you have.

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