What have we learned about Pro Se divorce so far? Be organized, and learn your state divorce laws, rules of civil procedure, and all those ethics codes that dictate how judges and lawyers do business.
You know how to file the original petition for divorce and how to notify your husband. Now you are asking, “What is next?”
Next is the fun part.
It is time to roll up your sleeves, and learn the meaning of the word “endurance.” If you are a lucky litigant the judge will order mediation in your case. This is your opportunity to negotiate a settlement with your husband, which keeps you out of divorce court.
Below are a few tips for those who are able to go through the mediation process:
• For mediation to succeed you have to be willing to give as well as take.
• Familiar advice: there is no place for your emotions during mediation. Mediation is about deciding custody, visitation schedules, and splitting assets. Your emotions don’t play a role in the mediation process.
• Be willing to grin and bare it. You may no longer like the guy you married, but during the mediation process it is in your best interest to be civil toward him.
• Be able to stand up for yourself and negotiate a divorce settlement that is fair and equitable to all concerned.
Negotiating Your Own Divorce Settlement:
In a best-case scenario, you and your husband will be able to work together in a fashion that is fair to the both of you. This article, The Ins and Outs of Mediation, will answer a few questions you may have about the mediation process.
Some courts appoint a mediator but others leave it up to the parties to the divorce to hire their own. If you find yourself in such a position check out Three Tips for Finding the Right Mediator.
As the article states, it is important that you choose a mediator you feel comfortable with and have confidence in.
Have a Plan of Action:
Before mediation begins, make a list of all matters to be negotiated, in what order they will be discussed, and what you are or aren’t willing to settle for. Below are links to some of the more common issues that may come up during mediation.
• Child Custody
Once negotiations begin, don’t become frustrated if all issues on your list aren’t resolved immediately. It usually takes two to four meetings with a mediator to come to terms on all the issues on the table.
During each meeting, take notes on what is discussed, what has and has not been agreed upon, and the things getting in the way of a meeting of the minds. Doing so will mean being on top of your game during the next meeting.
If your husband has an attorney, you can bet the lawyer will attempt to twist and manipulate whatever you say. Keeping notes is a way to keep adversarial attorneys in their place.
If you find that you are not able to come to a satisfactory agreement with your husband, discontinue mediation. Mediation is expensive and there is no reason to throw good money after bad if it’s not working.
If you have remained civil, made an attempt to compromise, and been honest about all legal issues, you have done the best you can do. Your next step will be to file a motion with the courts to set a date for divorce court and you will start the discovery process.
In part 5 of Pro Se Divorce I will walk you through Pro Se Litigation: What to Expect During the Discovery Process… and what is expected of you.