MARRIED WOMEN SHOULD UNDERSTAND THEIR FAMILY FINANCES BEFORE DEATH OR DIVORCE PART THEM FROM THEIR MONEY

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I recently read a timely article at bloomberg.com, talking about the difficulties many post divorce women face financially, due to them not having participated in the handling of family finances while they were married.  Back then, their spouses handled the finances, who turned out to be better equipped in dealing with family related financial issues after the divorce was completed. Now, as newly single women, many wives who had left the money matters to the men, wish they hadn’t.

In Rise of ‘Gray’ Divorce Forces Financial Reckoning After 50, Suzanne Woolley writes of how “too many women” let their husbands make the long-term financial decisions, which has left them vulnerable when separation or death strikes.  That’s why it’s so important for any woman, married or not, young or old, to take the time to learn about the finances that affect them and their families, before death or divorce throw ungodly financial surprises upon you.  This is a regular instance with many family law clients. Many women, looking deer-lost in headlights, not having really any clear idea of the true nature of their family finances, seek legal advice related to family financial matters.  Surprise and shock are common responses when discussing the issues surrounding the division of community property. Issues related to income, expenses, assets, and debts might be clouded, personal property and community property commingled, or assets going unaccounted for.

By developing understanding of your financial affairs you will be better prepared to make the big financial decisions that you might have let your spouses make when you were still married.  Understanding family finances better helps to avoid the “nasty surprises” at the end, that your divorce lawyer will have to help you clean up.

Woolley notes some interesting facts relating to women and their investing, citing statistics from a survey found in a report called, “Own Your Worth,” which was released by UBS Global Wealth Management.

  • 56 percent of married women still leave major investing and financial planning decisions to their spouse.  
  • 61 percent of millennial women said they leave investment decisions to their husbands.
  • 54 percent of baby boomer women leave investment decisions to their husbands.
  • Twice as many men as women in the UBS survey said they were highly knowledgeable about investing.
  • Three-quarters of the women surveyed said they don’t know much about investing.

Woolley’s article also cites a stark difference between married women and women who were divorced or widowed regarding the “making (of) major financial decisions” during their marriage  She cites, for example, that:

  • 59 percent of widows and divorcees regret not taking part in long-term financial planning when they were a couple.
  • 85 percent of married women who weren’t active in making long-term financial decisions said their spouse knows more about financial issues than they do.
  • Eighty percent of women said they were content with how financial responsibilities were handled in their marriage.

The report concluded that a majority of married women are still handing over to their spouses important financial decisions that will profoundly affect their futures.  Women and divorcees who now find themselves alone wish they had been more involved in finances while they were married, says the UBS Global Wealth Management Report. Nearly all of them advise other women to get more involved early on and “break the cycle of financial abdication.”

WOMEN SHOULD BREAK THE CYCLE OF FINANCIAL ABDICATION

The UBS report cites “eight out of 10” divorced or widowed women who remarried as finding themselves to be “more active in the financial decision-making in their current relationship.”  Ninety-four percent of widows and divorcees surveyed insist on complete financial transparency with their spouse.

Again, for all women who are trying to make it work financially, you have one financial bottom line, and that is if you haven’t already — get involved now!  Wake up to the economic realities we all face right now in trying to move our families forward in a healthy and prosperous way. When the divorce comes about, you will be prepared in important aspects.  Remember that subsequent marriages have a higher rate of dissolving than do first marriages. So understand the income, expenses, assets and debts formula your family operates under now.

If you are a married woman, be involved with your husband when making all financial decisions.  You’re signature and / or consent is going to be required for most family related financial instruments, so you might as well understand what you are signing, and why.  If a divorcing woman understands her finances, and she can communicate rationally and intelligently with her spouse, come time for the divorce, she can conceivably steer the mediation of the division of the community property and in the long run save her and her family a lot of money and emotional expense.  If she needs an attorney or divorce mediator to help her with the process, she can always hire a family law specialist.

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HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOUR FAMILY FOR A FINANCIAL RESET?

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Does anybody who’s ever tried keeping their family’s heads above treacherous financial waters have any idea what in the world is going on right now?  Overseas, we’ve got accusations of chemical attacks and fake chemical attacks simultaneously coming out of Syria and England.  We’ve got threats of a major trade war between the United States and China.

Domestically, we’ve got a U.S. dollar that is worth four cents on the dollar, with the value declining as I write this.  The U.S. bond market and stock market, both pegged to the U.S. dollar, are filled with too high prices and too much risk, so they no longer provide a guaranteed safe haven to protect our assets from the declining U.S. dollar.

We have President Trump with his tax cuts, and Central Banks that are talking about raising the interest rates.  Our economy has been stretched to the max.  This last series of programs that were put into action by the Federal Reserve Bank since our last crash in 2008 have failed.  And all of this is happening at the exact same time.  It’s a recipe for disaster, and now someone is talking about a complete financial “reset,” and we have to wonder how that will affect our ability to feed and clothe our families during difficult days to come.

Why is all of this happening right now?  According to Lynette Zang, Chief Marketing Analyst at ITM Trading, ten years of American Central Bank failures means that all of the fiat money assets that were targeted for “‘reflation’ have created tremendous bubbles, and now they’re trying to undo the experiments with our economy.”  They’re trying to undo what?

Zang, who has worked in commercial banking since 1986, says what we have witnessed is a Central Bank rally followed by what appears to be a Central Bank crash — with whatever is to follow.

“The Fed is going to start tapering their stimulus,” the former stock broker and investment banker says.  In other words, print, print, print money is all we know, and now the scant part of that flow that came down to us is being cut off.

Zang says what fuels this whole financial system, which is called a “fiat currency system”, is the constantly compounding debt.  “And interest rates are the tools that they use to speed that up or slow that down,” she says.

Our problem is the world has been anchored at zero percent interest for too long.  “That means they’re out of the tools that they typically would use to do that,” Zang says, “which is why they’re trying to unwind and normalize something that isn’t normal to begin with.”

Our money system is not normal to begin with because it is based on debt.  The best we can do in our present day financial reality is borrow more, of what the Federal Reserve “prints”, so we can buy what we can afford to borrow — at a price, that compounds daily with interest.  And now the Federal Reserve Bank has no more tools to keep it going.  The American financial house of cards is rapidly crashing, and what exactly that means to us, the average person struggling to make a living and raise a family of four, will be up to us.

According to Zang, “they’ve” been calling for a “reset” since 2013, and “they’ve” run out of options.  There’s no purchasing power left in the U.S. dollar.  All the currencies in the world that are tied to the U.S. dollar have eroded over time due to inflation, to near worthlessness.  And that’s what all of our family law community assets are tied into.  It’s all going down the tubes.

“They’re talking about a financial reset,” Zang says, “but it looks more like a planned demolition.”  The Central Banks are in huge trouble.

We, here, in the real world, have no choice but to get our heads around this concept of a new financial reset.  We need to understand what’s going on.  Big changes are happening to us and we’re not being told about it straight forward.  We need to find answers to tough questions.  We need to ask those tough questions.  We need to understand how this financial crisis that is happening, and is apparently going to get much worse, is going to affect us if we’re an average family of four who just happens to be going through the biggest crisis of our lives, and it’s called divorce.

So what is a financial “reset”?  Is it getting rid of the debt, a new currency?  What?
“Transitioning us into the new financial system,” Zang says cryptically.  “Establishing the new financial system they have in mind, which ties into cryptocurrencies and cyberspace.”

If what Zang says is true, then the situation we find ourselves in appears clear enough.  We are going from a debt based financial system to one that is centered around crypto currencies, cyberspace, and digital money controlled by a central governing process.

If we’ve gone to the grocery store lately or tried to buy movie tickets we know our dollar is buying less.  Everything we own seems to be going down in value while everything we need gets too expensive to buy.  We’re forced to settle for less and make difficult choices as to how we’re going to spend our precious remaining financial resources.

The old financial system that started under U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1971 was based on debt.  That debt, and all the compounded interest that has accrued on it, stands today as not payable.  And the interest on that debt continues to add up.

Zang says a “reset” to the financial system begins with a reset of the debt.  She says we have been dealing with nothing but compounding interest, which is “what creates money in the system, and we’re never going to get out of debt.”  It’s the way the system was built and they are going to have to “reset” the debt, so we will be able to continue to function economically as individuals and a nation.  But at what price?

Our currency, the U.S. dollars we spend to buy food, gas, and clothing, are merely debt instruments that don’t pay interest.  Our financial system is based on the foundation of never ending debt.  We’ve reached the end of the line.  Compounding interest will never be paid off.  “It has to reset.”  “The system doesn’t work anymore.”  “It died in 2008.”  “It’s a zombie system.”  “The entire system will crash.”  These are Lynette Zang’s words, not mine.

And the question remains.  What do families have to do to have a chance to survive in a rapidly changing world like this?  The answer is they have to learn the truth of the world that swirls by them while they’re busy making plans, or playing with their cell phones.  Heads of families have to take the time to learn to understand what is truly going on in the economic realm in which they live.  Right now, we in America are living on borrowed time, financially, and most of us don’t even realize it.  We might be aware that something is going on, that bills are becoming difficult to pay, but we don’t really pay attention to finding solution to our ever increasing financial difficulties.

That’s why we’ve got to deal with the true nature of today’s realities, financially and otherwise.  We’ve got to do our homework.  We’ve got to weed out the lies in information we receive and determine who’s telling the truth.  We’ve got to understand that, financially, our dollar may be about to disappear.  That there most probably is some kind of major change coming to our financial system and the currency we will use to live on.  That we’re going to have to understand what that is all about, how it will affect us, so we can figure out how to preserve what assets we have left.  We must learn to understand how a financial “reset” will affect the future of our families.

Where does your family stand on this?

 

PROPERTY DIVISION IN DIVORCE IS ABOUT ASSET PRESERVATION

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One of the primary issues a family law specialist deals with in divorce is helping his or her clients resolve their financial issues.  An experienced family law attorney can help you not only divide your property and assets, but your debt and liabilities as well.  A divorce attorney will utilize the best methods to put your entire family in the best financial position possible as you move forward into unfamiliar post-divorce territory.

Sometimes the community possesses complicated financial assets, like investment and retirement accounts or stock options, and a forensic accountant might be brought in to help analyze, value, and divide your property.  A forensic accountant can help unravel the essential financial formulas that might affect not only the division of community assets, but also child support and spousal support.  Forensic accountants can be expensive, however, and they’re not right for all divorces.  In a divorce case, a little common sense can go a long way when it comes to dividing community property.  The key is to think about how you’re going to preserve what you have in this dramatically volatile economic environment we live in.

My belief is that we are in the middle of the greatest economic free fall that we’ve ever experienced in this country during my lifetime.  The United States Congress says that the U.S. dollar has lost 96% percent of its value since its inception in 1913.  Some economists say that we are in the middle of witnessing 90% percent of the global wealth changing hands of ownership.  Whose hands are your wealth going into?  Will you and your family have anything left?

The purchasing power of the U.S. dollar, which is what we live and eat on, is down to an all time low, so low, in fact, that the U.S. Congress is contemplating bringing back the gold standard to back it.  At this time, more than ever, income, expenses, assets, debts, savings, and investments, should all be at the forefront of the minds of family law attorneys helping you divide your community assets in a divorce.  If you as a divorcing spouse aren’t considering your personal state of financial affairs, as it relates to your family’s future financial reality, and the value of the assets that you can take with you in your split, you could be in for some major surprises and disappointment.

TRUE INVESTMENT CAPITAL ONLY COMES FROM SAVINGS

Unemployment in this country is at an all time high.  Even if you have a job, inflation affecting everything you buy probably keeps you from being able to actually save money.  One of the greatest issues for family law attorneys in dealing with divorce is financial disagreement between the spouses, which is compounded by the fact spouses just aren’t saving enough in real value, so they end up fighting each other tooth-and-nail to squeeze every ounce of wealth they can out of whatever community asset they have left.  So be it for inflated assets.  Sets of silverware are being split down the middle because divorcing spouses have not been saving.  They’ve barely considered the true valuation of their assets up to this point in their lives.

Savings are important because they form the cash cushion that gets us through difficult economic times.  We get the best value out of our assets by saving for them first.  A lack of savings is one of the major problems we face not only as individuals but as a country during these economically challenging times.  Economic researcher Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, says that savings are important nationally because they are utilized for the formation of investment capital; that is, the property, plant and equipment that create actual future wealth.

Same thing applies to spouses in a marriage.  If you are going to want to be able to invest in the “property, plant and equipment” of your future, so you  have some future wealth to be able to preserve for your family, without having a giant debt load attached to it, you’re going to have to save for it first.  True investment capital can only come from savings.

INDIVIDUAL’S SAVINGS RATES AT ALL TIME LOW

According to Martenson, savings rates have plunged to historic lows, “levels last associated with the Great Depression.”  Martenson says the personal American savings rate has steadily declined in America since 1985 to the present.  The decline we have experienced as a country and as individuals has resulted from “a culmination of a multi-decade erosion of savings as a cultural attribute of American citizens,” Martenson says.  Now, many of you are realizing this in your own lives, where you’re having problems making ends meet on a week-to-week basis, with nary the time nor thought given toward investing in yours or your children’s futures.  The truth is, you can barely deal with financing the now.  And you’ve probably got a lot of debt to go with it.

Martenson, a futurist and co-founder at PeakProsperity.com, believes that what a history of persistently declining savings tells us is that there is an “implicit assumption” by the majority of people in this country that unlimited credit will be available in the future, and so we don’t need to save now.  We have assumed a lifestyle where we have largely substituted a “save and spend” mentality, with “a buy it now on credit” mentality.

All debt across all sectors in this country, and personal savings of individuals, shifted in opposite directions in 1985, with the gap widening dramatically ever since.  “Our national tolerance of debt shifted drastically upwards beginning in 1985 right as our national approach to savings was beginning its long decline towards zero,” Martenson says.

The marketing of our financial system has created in us a belief that in order to have a grander and brighter future, we are going to need more money, which equates to greater debt, so we can buy things.  We have become a country of mass consumers fueled by credit availability.  Everything is about beating the Joneses, now, the future be damned, and the Joneses have a lot of credit at their disposal.  The idea has been ingrained in us that low savings plus high debt equals prosperity, or what Chris Martenson calls, “at least a perpetual feature of our future economic landscape.”

THE BOTTOM LINE FOR DIVORCING COUPLES

The bottom line for most Americans has become that of low savings rate and high debt, which is a major problem because it means that most divorcing spouses have a very thin safety cushion to ride out the economic hardship we are experiencing at this time.  This equates to the fact that most people have failed to invest in their families’ futures.  Dealing with the present while preparing for the future has posed a difficult task for most Americans, and, as a result, divorcing spouses have little left to divide.  They’re not alone in this.  A lack of savings is a nationwide problem.

Our bottom financial line to get through these difficult times has to be pretty straight forward from here.  Save as much as possible, now, and get out of debt.  Many financial forecasters predict that a credit freeze is imminent.  Prepare for it.  Know the truth of what’s really going on in the world, and with our banks.  When possible, move those hard-earned savings into assets that will hold or increase in value during this time of the declining U.S. dollar.  The theory behind hard earned savings, and the investment thereof, should include a ‘smart plan’ on how to preserve those assets for future family needs.

 

 

MEDIATION CAN HELP MINIMIZE EMOTIONAL DAMAGE TO CHILDREN OF DIVORCING PARENTS

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Does mediation help minimize the emotional damage children can experience when sharing in their parents’ divorce? You bet it does.

America has the highest divorce rate in the world, and it continues to climb. More than half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. The rest end in annulment, or by death to one or both of the spouses. Not much of a choice. Divorce is the preferred method by most.

People who divorce experience many deep emotions that are associated with grief and loss. They suffer from anger, unhappiness, worry and wonder, among others, and these negative emotions can actualize during different stages at different times of the divorce.

Children of divorcing parents can be affected more than they might let on. A divorce of parents can present itself as a crisis in a young child’s life. It can be a jolt in routine and a time of unfamiliar transition and the child could have a difficult time adjusting to that new life’s situation.

Children can suffer serious consequences from their parents’ divorce, including behavioral, psychological, and emotional problems. Research has proven, for instance, that children with divorced parents are twice as likely to seek mental health treatment. They are more susceptible to depression and twice as likely to have behavior management issues. They will act out. Children who have experienced their parents’ divorce are also at risk for increased stress and tension factors.

When children are involved in divorces, they find themselves at risk for a kaleidoscope of emotional issues which can be traced directly back to their parents who are having problems dealing with their own emotions. The most common and complicated emotion experienced by both child and parent during divorce is anger. Ph.D, researcher and mediator Robert E. Emery calls this “a common reaction to grief and loss.” The theory is that if parents aren’t processing their emotions in a positive way, they are negatively affecting their children. They are causing more conflict and tension in the transition for the children who can become confused and upset about what is happening as their lives spin out of control around them. They have been overwhelmed by their unfamiliar circumstances and negative emotional experiences.

Experts write that the stress associated with divorce causes mood swings and triggers anxiety in children. In his book, The truth about children and divorce, Dr. Emery writes about divorce posing a challenging transition for the children to adjust to. But there is a way to avoid a lot of it. In response to concerns over the psychological well-being of children of divorce, researchers have also concluded that after being involved in divorce mediation, parents suffered from decreased levels of distress and anxiety, which directly benefited their children.

MEDIATION BENEFITS CHILDREN FOLLOWING THEIR PARENTS’ DIVORCE

Studies have proven that families can benefit by promoting the positive involvement of both parents in a child’s life following a divorce. This is where a good divorce mediator comes in, someone who can positively involve the parents and children in the divorce mediation process and beyond, to help communicate with each other re managing family conflict.

Research by J.B. Kelly shows that mediation can be helpful in resolving emotional and agreement issues in family conflict, which could have a positive impact on children’s adjustment to the divorce. A good mediator can help both parents and children in learning better skills to manage their emotional problems as they learn to deal with their new life situations.

The mediator can help you realize that as you proceed through divorce you will become keenly aware of and concerned about the affects your divorce is having on your children. You will come to understand that the most damaging aspect to your children is when they personally witness the exchange of hostilities and conflict between you and your spouse.

Research has proven that children who live with parental conflict have adjustment problems as they get older, which materializes in their lives whether or not their parents actually go through with the divorce. The bottom line is that it’s not the divorce itself that does harm to the children, it’s the parental conflict you play out in front of them. Under no circumstances should you argue or demean your spouse in front of your children.

FAMILY LAW MEDIATION IS GOOD FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCING PARENTS

Brianna L. Nelson, BSW, LSW, presented a Clinical Research Paper entitled, Divorce Mediation and its Impact on Children, to the faculty of the School of Social Work at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. In her paper Nelson concluded that divorce mediation can be helpful and beneficial for families when resolving emotional and familial conflict, which could decrease the negative effects divorce can have on children. She came to the same conclusion many experts had reached before her. Family law mediation is good for children of divorcing parents. “Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process that helps the parties in conflict come to agreements without the use of the court system and expensive legal services,” Nelson writes. The mediator will be the one to facilitate the negotiation process.

https://sophia.stkate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1242&context=msw_papers

Family law mediation is most common in divorce and child custody disputes, and to assist in the decision-making process regarding finances, parenting, and the division of personal and real property. The key advantages of mediation over litigation is in avoiding the stress, expense, and family divisiveness. Mediation should be less time-consuming and a more humane way to deal with your conflict resolution. Mediation focuses on resolving the conflict, where litigation focuses on stopping it.

As of 2018, children are becoming more involved in the family law mediation process. It provides an opportunity for the children to be heard, which is important for they are the ones most negatively affected by separation and divorce. Divorce mediation provides an opportunity to assess a child’s basic awareness of their parents’ divorce, and to help them resolve their issues in dealing with it.

Just like communication between spouses, mediation can increase communication between child and parent and it can improve the co-parental relationship, which all benefits your children. That’s why if you divorce, and you can communicate rationally with your spouse, you’re going to want to find an experienced specialist in family law who can mediate your divorce related issues. You’ll want to find a divorce mediator who can educate you about common concerns you and your spouse share regarding your children. Find a mediator with exceptional communication skills who can help you brainstorm your issues and resolve them. Find someone who is sensitive to your family members’ feelings of grief and loss. Remember, the whole purpose is for you and your children to be able to utilize the feedback received through mediation to help your family build a healthier and happier tomorrow.

DIVORCE MEDIATION ALLOWS FOR IMPROVED COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

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Divorce can be a very difficult process for two people. Emotions can run high, heartbreak, stress, and anger can set in. Many spouses feel disappointment and frustration and they struggle to effectively communicate with one another about the complex feelings that surge through them. This can lead to destructive communication which can shatter your ability to exchange important ideas. Yelling, name calling, abusive language, withholding of information, one spouse or the other shutting down completely, and other destructive behaviors retard progress in a divorce, and everyone suffers.

In family law mediation one of the mediator’s chief responsibilities is to facilitate open communication between the sides. A mediator may need to coach the parties on the best techniques to use to communicate with one another civilly and rationally. Some spouses need to learn that if they’re going to resolve their family law issues, without spending all their money on lawyer’s fees and subjecting themselves to bankruptcy, they’re going to have to learn how to communicate with each other.

In divorce, it would be cost prohibitive to expect your attorney to make contact with your spouse about every minor issue that arises. Divorce attorneys cost money, and their bills can add up fast. If you can learn to communicate with your spouse, even though everyone’s upset with or not speaking to each other, mediation is a possibility, and you can save money. There are instances, however, where mediation is not appropriate. Like if one spouse is so aggressive toward the other that he or she makes it difficult to even speak with them directly, then you’ll need an attorney, and you’re going to have to litigate your divorce. You’ll also need an attorney to represent you if you have a restraining order that prohibits contact with your spouse due to domestic violence.

Each mediator does things a little differently, but they’re there to help you get a fresh start in dealing with your spouse. The mediator is there to help spouses find solutions to problems you have been unable to or unwilling to solve between yourselves. Mediators guide the communication process so that both of you are able to express what it is that you want to accomplish. The mediator can help clear up misunderstandings between divorcing spouses. The idea of mediation is to create an environment suitable to generate meaningful discussion between two people who once loved each other in an effort to solve nagging, difficult problems. If the two of you learn to communicate more clearly, you can again generate positive feelings toward one another.

In an effort to facilitate better communication and harmony between two spouses during mediation or divorce, I offer the following 5 suggestions:

1) Respect thy spouse.

Treat your spouse with respect at all times. At all times, treat your spouse as you would want your spouse to treat you. What other way would you want to have it? A divorce cannot be a battle to the death, where everybody gets emotionally bloodied, and still have all parties come out as winners. Divorce mediation is premised on the idea of getting away from the conflict of courtroom litigation. It is an opportunity for two sides to sit down and work things out. Mediation can be beneficial for personal emotional balance, your relationship with your spouse, and your children’s needs. Sitting down and speaking calmly and rationally with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may be the last thing in the world you want, but respectful communication makes divorce healthier for everyone involved. Any ultimate agreement you may want to make with your spouse will begin with the respect you demonstrate.

2) Set boundaries, set aside familiarities.

Even in the tamest of divorces, setting boundaries is an important step. Just because you were once married, and you are very familiar with each other, doesn’t mean that you have to fall back into old behavior patterns. They must be broken. It is very easy for you and your spouse to cross boundaries without even realizing it. It is a good idea to agree on how often you will communicate with each other and in which manner. Discuss with your spouse what your preferred modes of communication are, whether by text, phone, e mail, or the like, and stick to it. Respond when your schedule permits. If talking on the phone or in person creates too many issues, then e mail might be the better form of communication.

If you or your spouse are the needy / clingy type, or if you are frustrated or impatient and want to communicate too frequently, like several times per day, then you may want to establish more limited communication exchanges. Try once per day, or once per week. By establishing these boundaries up front, expectations for communication can be managed, which allows for everyone to be on the same page. Fulfilled expectations help reduce a lot of disagreement and stress. Make clear parameters for communications and let your spouse know ahead of time you will respond at your earliest convenience. Specify if you only want to respond to emergency requests or whether you are comfortable with steady communications, but be clear and respectful.

You don’t have to respond to every communication attempt by your ex. Ignore trivial issues and avoid additional conflict. Taking your time to respond to your spouse’s anxieties will give you the opportunity to think things through and come up with an appropriate and courteous response.

3) Be present, focus on the issues at hand

Divorce can be messy and sometimes it just can’t be avoided. While dividing community assets and debts and establishing custody and support for minor children emotions will heighten and spouses will get excited. Bitterness and frustration over grievances with your spouse can hamper your relationship. Stress about how you’re going to deal with debts and finances will churn your stomach. You lose track of what’s important during
conversations with your spouse and you start arguing about meaningless issues.

Be present. Concentrate only on the issues being discussed now when in mediation. Experience the senses of the mediation process; the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches, that surround you, now, and stay focused on the issues you are discussing. Try to avoid acting out based on previous grievances with your spouse. Don’t bring yesterday’s anger into today’s mediation session. Forget about the future as well, for now. We may never get there. Take a deep breath and focus on what you do have – the here and the now – the only thing you have control of at this moment.

4) Tone it down, clown

Get out of unhealthy habits. Stop talking to your spouse from a negative emotional space as if he or she is a demonic movie villain. Even if you are angry at your spouse you must not express that in your communications. Although you might be tempted to be sarcastic, raise your voice, or mimic your spouse, don’t do it. Frustration and emotional imbalance combined with familiarity are known to breed negative tones and you have to be present and you have to be aware of it, and you have to control your mouth. Even when you lose your emotions and get angry it is better to just get up and walk away. Stay out of the headspace of hurt and find the heart space of forgiveness and move forward. While no one should have to take abusive words from a spouse, these negative tones are inappropriate and only escalate disagreement.

Speak to your spouse the way you would like your spouse to speak to you. By doing so, you foster an atmosphere for open and respectful communication, which is much more helpful to the divorce process than condescending tones and bitter feelings.

5) Find the common ground

Agreement can be such a wonderful thing. It feels good to accomplish something that is important. So during mediation why not start communicating about something you and your spouse agree on, and go from there, spreading out into bigger issues. Heart is another wonderful common ground in mediation. We all have one, all we need to do is find it, and communicate from there. When you are in mediation, or litigation for that matter, find your heart space, and stay there. Create a new healthy paradigm with your spouse. Stay out of your mind, the past negativities, the future stresses, because it’ll make you crazy. And your children will appreciate you for it.

The welfare of your children is another wonderful common ground to consider when mediating with your spouse. You and your spouse want nothing but the best for the children, so frame your hearts and minds to achieve that goal first. Figure out custody of your children and go from there. You and your spouse might remember that you once built your relationship on common ground, and if you can find it again in family law mediation, you can turn it into settlement agreement that benefits everyone.