Tips for Moving Toward Successful Divorce Mediation

Sean Gentile, M.B.A.
Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator
Shares Tips for Moving Toward Successful Divorce Mediation

Going through a divorce is never easy. Whether for the two people getting divorced or their loved ones, especially their children, the process of divorce can take its toll. In order to make it as painless as possible for everyone involved, Sean Gentile recommends following a few key pieces of advice.
Sean Gentile is a certified family mediator, the author of four tip books, an entrepreneur, a mother, and an activist. She is based in South Florida and has had an illustrious career spanning over two decades. She provides her top six tips for moving toward a successful mediation.

Keep Emotions in Check

Divorce mediation can be a particularly emotional process. There are guaranteed to be times when one or both parties feel like screaming, crying, or both. Unfortunately, this is the reality of divorce. However, what is critical is not to let these emotions show during mediation. Controlling your emotions is key to a successful divorce mediation agreement. If you can· remain calm and composed, even when your ex-partner is pushing your buttons, you will be in a much better position to get what you want. Sean Gentile advises all her clients to come up with a calming mechanism before they enter the room. For example, when you start to feel a jolt of anger,
Gentile recommends taking deep breaths and counting to five. If necessary, you can also ask to be excused and take a moment to yourself outside the mediation room.

Take A Step Back

It’s easy to feel like every little bump in the road is the end of the world when you’re in the middle of a divorce. In order to get the most out of your divorce mediation agreement, Sean Gentile claims that you need to be able to take a step back and have some perspective. Prior to entering mediation, think long and hard about what you really want out of the agreement. Things like property and custody of children are far more important in the long term than material possessions, like electronics or furniture. Do your best to remind yourself of this throughout the entire process. Mediation is much smoother when the parties aren’t constantly bickering over small, ultimately irrelevant things.

Communicate Openly

Communication is key when it comes to mediation. In order for ex-spouses to come to the best possible agreement, they need to be willing to communicate their wants and needs in an open and respectful way. Numerous times Sean Gentile has witnessed partners that are so angry with one another that they refuse to even talk to each other. Or alternatively, she has worked with partners who insist on having their attorneys present and talking through their attorneys the entire time. In divorce mediation, honesty and communication are critical. If you can learn how to communicate your needs, you will both be much better off.

Utilizing attorneys

There is a time and a place for attorneys in divorce mediation, shares Sean Gentile. When a couple has many assets or businesses to divide or liabilities to negotiate an attorney may assist with the legalities. Sean Gentile suggests interviewing an attorney ahead of time to understand his fees and what his cost may total. You may get his legal opinion on what percentage each party should receive in regard to assets. It would give some comfort to know the economic boundaries of how your assets in the marriage can be divided. If both parties can enter the mediation room with attorneys assisting with the proper legal help needed, the mediation is likely to be much more positive and productive.

Anticipating Needs

Another tip is to anticipate your own needs and the needs of your partner before starting divorce mediation. Ultimately, you know your spouse far better than the mediator does. Thus, the best thing you can do to prepare for meditation is to anticipate what it is your spouse hopes to get out of an agreement. Consider questions like “What is important to your spouse?”, “What will your spouse want in the divorce?”, and “What will your spouse be willing to give up?”. Being able to answer these questions, both on behalf of your spouse and yourself will help prepare you for meditation as you might be able to go into it already willing to concede a few items you know they want and prepared to make your own argument for items that you want.

Sean Gentile on Counselling

As mentioned, divorce is never easy. It can be extremely stressful for both spouses, as well as any children they might have. Thus, anyone going through a divorce, especially when it’s a tough divorce, should consider seeking out a counsellor. There are counselling services available for children, parents, and families in every state, including Florida. These services can provide a safe place for your family to navigate their way through the divorce. It can help with grieving emotions or even figuring out the logistics of co-parenting from two different homes. Sean Gentile claims that not enough families seek the help of a professional therapist or psychologist when going through a divorce and in her opinion, it makes a world of difference. Whether you’re finding the divorce particularly hard or not, there will likely come a time when you need to talk to someone about it and counselling can help fill this void.