Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Propose Collaborative Divorce or Mediation to Your Spouse


Want to try collaborative or mediation divorce but are unsure if your spouse will agree to it? The best way to ask for the response you want is as follows.

Spend some time planning what you will say and how you will say it if you decide to suggest mediation or collaboration to your spouse. Here are some recommendations as well as some things to remember not to do.

Writing or Speaking

If you and your spouse get along well enough to speak to each other face-to-face or over the phone, you might be able to suggest mediation or collaborative law by simply talking to your spouse about it. Make the proposal in writing if your spouse has a tendency to respond poorly to your ideas and suggestions during conversations or if you and your spouse don’t get along.

Having the Right Words

Presenting collaborative divorce in a nonjudgmental and neutral manner is important, whether you do it verbally, over the phone, or in writing. Give your spouse information without giving them the impression that they are being pressured or being sold a piece of junk. Consider writing a draft letter and having a reliable friend or advisor review it before sending the finished document to your spouse if you plan to propose mediation or collaboration in writing. If you plan to make the proposal in person or over the phone, prepare your remarks in advance and make some notes. To make sure you strike the right tone and cover all the points you need to make, think about practicing with a friend. Consider giving your spouse any brochures or other printed materials you may have explaining mediation. The same applies to any reliable websites or other sources of information you may have discovered. In this way, as you talk about whether, how, and who to mediate, you and your partner would have the same frame of reference.

Choosing a Particular Mediator

Depending on the specifics of your situation, you might want to start looking for a mediator before bringing up mediation with your spouse or you might want to wait until your spouse can actively participate in the selection process.

Give your spouse your list of potential mediators along with details on their fees and selection criteria if you have already compiled one. This lets your spouse have a say in what happens and sends the message that you are willing to share information. This increases the likelihood that the mediation will begin on a constructive note.

Depending on whether your spouse will perceive your attempt to sway the mediator to your side rather than a neutral request for general information, you should decide whether to get in touch with the potential mediators beforehand. Avoid prior contact with the mediators you want to suggest if you have any doubts about this. Usually, you can learn something about local mediators without actually speaking to them. Then you can inform your spouse of what you’ve learned and reassure them that by initiating contact, you haven’t jeopardized the mediator’s objectivity.

If your spouse is likely to view anyone you recommend with suspicion, suggest mediation in general and offer to take a mediator that your spouse suggests into consideration. You can still research local mediators so that you can decide on your spouse’s suggestion in a well-informed manner, but you can also keep your spouse from feeling railroaded or dictated to.

There is nothing wrong with giving your spouse a brochure or other information listing local attorneys with experience in collaborative practice if you are proposing a collaborative divorce and neither you nor your spouse has hired an attorney. However, unless your spouse specifically requests it, avoid recommending specific attorneys for your spouse.

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