Blog Archive

Friday, August 30, 2013

Does Mediation Only Give the Appearance of an Amicable Divorce?

             As I said before, one of the rules of mediation in my (former) state is that the spouses put all their funds into one joint account. We also had to stay in the house together or we would be considered abandoning it, or abandoning the marriage and, therefore, mediation could not take place.

I’m sorry. That is wrong.

I'm not saying mediation is wrong. I just think the rules have to be tweaked a bit.

I realize mediation gives the appearance of an amicable divorce, but in most cases, I’m sure it’s not why people want to mediate.

People are getting a divorce for a “reason.” Most of the time one or the other is cheating, lying, abusing, has dark secrets, is a narcissist—the list goes on. (Refer to my post on June 19, 2013 of top reasons why people divorce)

I believe, even in mediation, the accounts should be halved, or 60-40—whatever the court will allow—and the offending party should move out.*

The only reason I went through the mediation process was because I heard it didn’t take as long as a regular divorce and I wanted out of there fast. Since it doesn’t take as long, it’s cheaper.

Most states are “no fault” so it doesn't matter who the adulterer, liar or narcissist is. Tell the lawyer you fear for your life. I did at one point, but she seemed unmoved by that. She must have thought, “They’re here mediating, so it can’t be that bad.”

I pushed an end table in front of the bedroom door to make noise if he tried to get in, and slept with scissors under my pillow, next to my cell phone set to call 9-1-1-. I was fearful. I had been verbally abused for over thirty years. He was acting erratic. He had a girlfriend. I found his porn—all this on top of the abuse, lying and skimming money from our account.

In my case, I just wanted to mediate so I could get out of the marriage as soon as possible.

Because my ex took money out of our joint accounts, I decided to take some of our money and open up a new account in my name only to protect myself. My friends, ecclesiastical leader—even our marriage counselor—told me to do it.

I felt defeated when I heard the mediator say, “You need to put all of your money into one account.”

My heart dropped. My husband gloated victory.

After I put the money back, he spent our joint account down to almost nothing. He got his own credit card and spent a thousand dollars at a pop. I got one too. I spent seven dollars.

  • Did you use a mediator for your divorce?
  • Were you pleased with the results?
  • What would you have done differently?
  • I'd love a lawyer's opinion on the subject.

Are you considering mediation? You might want to check your state laws to see what is best for you before you decide.

*Just my two cents, as always


Shel Harrington said...

Susan, I don't know what state you are in, but it is absolutely shocking to me that staying in the same house and requiring the parties to maintain all their money in a joint account would be a requirement to get divorced or mediate. I've practiced Family Law in Oklahoma for 20 years, taught it at a law school for 15 years, and have taught "Mediation and Family Law" as well as "Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect" for years. Under no program that I have participated in would anybody advocate staying in the same house with an abuser. OR not setting up a separate account as long as one party didn't take all the funds and they remained accountable for the account they set up.While I try and stay abreast of trends in other states because I teach, I miss much because I practice in Oklahoma and there is an ever-growing list of new laws to stay on top of.So I am always interested in learning what is happening elsewhere.

Mediation, while not for every situation, can be a great tool. However, all mediators are not created equal. Just like in any profession, there are competent and incompetent, good and bad, compassionate and cold.I have to wonder if the 'rule' about combining money was a state law or the mediator's rule - either way it's bad. One has to do research on mediators just like when hiring a Family Law attorney. And, just like with an attorney, if it's not a good fit, there are other choices.

With regard to an earlier question you posed as to whether or not this is a helpful blog, I think many would be interested in the discussion. However, people can't participate in what they don't know exists. I looked for another way to contact you (email, Facebook) about some ideas on that, but wasn't able to find one.

Susan said...

Shel, I lived in Pennsylvania during my divorce.
I assume the lawyer thought, since we were mediating, that our divorce was amicable.
It wasn't, but it was quick and less expensive, so I bit my tongue and carried on. I lived in fear.
In hindsight. . . I don't know if I would have done that differently. I was told a regular divorce took 2-3 years and I didn't know what to do. He controlled the money and told me we didn't have any. I wish someone would have told me he would pay for the divorce if I won. I don't even know how it works, so I shouldn't say.
I just think mediators should assume no divorce is amicable. There's a reason.
I appreciate your concern. I wish I would have known you then :)
I hope this post and comment will help others.

Susan said...

Shel, I've added an email address widget to the blog. Feel free to email me.