My apologies to all those mediators out there but I have one very important piece of divorce advise to offer…
Don’t EVER use a mediator for divorce.
Sorry, no matter how amicable and mutual this divorce thing might be, between you and your spouse, I believe you need an attorney to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. From my experience anyway. Not only that, an attorney will make sure you’re not getting hosed. Hopefully.
Again, I say it’s from my experience, so let me tell you what happened to me…
I was going through a divorce and I think the biggest reason I didn’t hire an attorney because I had no money. Also, at the time it was fairly civil and mutual and we really didn’t have any assets. We had just moved out to Denver with his job, sold the house back in NY and hadn’t bought yet in Denver, so know house to divide. We decided, we’ll just use a mediator, it’s cheap.
Remember kids, you get what you pay for. Mediation is to just split things up all civil-like. I think the mediator just wanted us to play nice in the sandbox and get out as quickly as we could unscathed. However, I think the goal really just became “let’s keep him from getting mad”. You see, my ex had a bit of a temper. Ex-hockey player, he could go from zero to rip your head off in sixty seconds. That’s one of the reasons we were getting divorced. And I just wanted to get away from him, just give him whatever and go. Dumbass idea. And I had no one in mediation to really advocate for me. There was no one pushing my best interests.
I did some dumb shit to get out. I put myself in a huge stressful mess that didn’t have to happen. First of all, the mediator didn’t even think to put the child support through the state system or put a due date on the agreement for each month. So he gave it whenever he wanted, so he might give it to me on the 2nd of April but in March wait until the 30th, I’ve basically missed a month. Then he started missing payments or making partial and I didn’t have much recourse to but to take him to court. If it had gone through the state collection system, it would have come right out of his check.
The other thing is the lawyer probably would have fought for me to stay home until all the kids were in school (at the time they were 7, 4, and 2) but no, he pressured and guilted me into working to “earn my fair share”. I hadn’t worked in 4 years, it wasn’t like I had some great professional career either that I could just pop back into and make six figures. I did marketing or general admin work. So I went to work and was basically working just to cover daycare. I put myself in the hole actually. If I had a lawyer they could have fought for me to just stay home until school age, and I wouldn’t have to fight him myself.
It was really stressful to boot. I had three little kids that were sick or running late or had sports and he was always out of town with work so there was no help. I actually went through a few jobs the first couple of years because I was just unreliable. I put the kids first. Who knows, maybe that was stupid but I really don’t think so… I have a son at NYU, and the 2 girls have 95 and 93 averages in school, and all are wonderfully polite and good kids. I know in my heart I did the right thing. But I made it awfully God damn hard on myself.
I just think an experienced lawyer would have had the experience to look out for all of these things. A mediator just wanted to get it done. Like I said, she even pointed out what a hot-head he was and how we should tip-toe. And unfortunately that has become a recurring theme in my life tip-toeing around other people so as not to upset the apple cart and make them happy. Meanwhile I get screwed. And now I see it started back then, I should have gotten a lawyer. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond to have your needs met and protect yourself. Take it from someone who didn’t. Am I bitter? No, I just am angry at myself for not standing up for myself. No more.