Getting your spouse to attend mediation is one thing; getting them to cooperate is another. Luckily, there are ways to successfully negotiate with an uncooperative spouse.
You and your spouse won’t always be on the same page. But if you have children, you both likely want what’s best for them.
Focus on creating the best possible parenting plan for your children. To lessen the likelihood of counterparenting, prepare a parenting plan workable for high-conflict parents. You can even return to mediation if there are issues with following the plan.
Friction between parents can hurt children, even if the parents do not live in the same household. Setting aside your differences can help you both get some of what you want while protecting your children.
2. Calmly remind them of the alternative
The alternative to mediation is court. Knowing that divorce can take years and legal fees can add up to tens of thousands of dollars may inspire your spouse to stop being difficult.
Contrast those difficulties with the benefits of mediation. Mediation is private, whereas in court a number of people will know intimate details of your life. Plus, you can keep the decisions in your hands in mediation rather than placing your faith in a judge.
3. Hire a lawyer as a buffer
An experienced divorce lawyer will know how to zero in on the issues and speak with the other side without personal animus getting in the way. They can try to learn why the spouse is being uncooperative and find solutions so mediation can move forward.
4. Show that you’re not looking for a fight
Be honest about what you’re seeking and be open to hearing your spouse’s ideas. You might find common ground. Reassess your ideal outcome, and understand that you must also cooperate if you want your spouse to be cooperative.
You’ll have a higher chance of success if you de-escalate tension before mediation begins.
5. Hire the right mediator
Find a mediator who has experience helping spouses in high conflict. They will know what to do when your spouse refuses to cooperate.
They can tailor the mediation sessions to what you need. For example, if things are especially contentious, you may sit in separate rooms while the mediator carries information and proposals back and forth.
Mediation isn’t about getting everything you want…
…it’s about getting what’s fair for both of you and what’s best for your children. The sooner spouses realize this, the sooner they can work together to achieve an agreeable divorce settlement.
Tom Stipanowich explains his hope of training law students to be more thoughtful negotiatiors and ultimately, changing the way the culture looks at resolving disputes.By Tom Stipanowich
Larry Susskind describes why specializations within mediation are necessary. The mediator should understand not only the process, but the substance in order to offer options and understand the language within...By Larry Susskind
"This article originally appeared in Track Two (Vol. 8 No. 1 July 1999) , a quarterly publication of the Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Media Peace Centre (South Africa)."...By Lesley Fordred Green