Pro se mediation: divorce without lawyers
Many people, thankfully, are looking for a less emotional and less expensive way to divorce. One option is the “pro se” mediation process, where a neutral mediator helps the parties reach an agreement. This can work out very well, or not at all. Some cases are just not suitable for mediation.
Do you trust your spouse?It seems a strange question to ask someone getting divorced, but an important one. If there is no trust whatsover, as in, you wouldn't believe your spouse if he/she told you the day of the week, then pro se mediation is not for you. There is a certain amount of trust involved in sitting down to negotiate across the table from someone. If you believe your spouse is hiding things, such as money or assets, or you do not trust his/her motives when it comes to timesharing with the children, then it might be best to seek consultation with a lawyer.
Do you know your finances?Many times in mediation, one person has a greater understanding of the parties finances. The other person may not even work at all and may have no idea of what their expenses will be. Mediation may still work, but consulting with a lawyer and/or a financial advisor may be a crucial first step to help the party determine what his/her legal rights are and what the financial picture would look like.
Can you and your spouse negotiate, or fight fairly?Divorce is always emotional, even if you are trying to do it in the most friendly way. In order for mediation to be successful, you and your spouse must be able and willing to put aside the emotion and discuss different possibilities for dividing assets, sharing time with your children and support. If one or both of you cannot do this without taking all or nothing positions or resorting to threats about hiring lawyers, the process will not likely work for you. Mediation is a give and take process. Nobody will get 100% of what they want. If you and your spouse understand this, and are willing to work through the process, then mediation may be successful for you.