What you don’t do in divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce

The basic premise of choosing divorce mediation or collaborative divorce is that both parties agree to negotiate in good faith to reach a settlement. Breaking that tenet can have a disastrous impact on whether or not you can reach an agreement. Yet there are many actions that individuals who enter either divorce mediation or collaborative divorce take that do just that.

Here are just a few things you should not do when entering into divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce mediation:

Don’t try to hide assets – Part of entering a good faith negotiation is that you will reveal all of your assets. Those who don’t disclose certain assets, hoping it will not be discovered, risk more than getting caught. If found out (and it probably will), it destroys your credibility with your spouse and in a collaborative case, with the rest of the team. This and makes it extremely difficult to negotiate. When this happens in divorce mediation or collaborative divorce, the case usually ends up in litigation. Not to mention that when you disclose your assets you do so under the pains and penalties of perjury.

Don’t put the children in the middle – The stress of their parents splitting up is enough for children to handle. Complaining about your ex or badmouthing them only adds to their stress and, one way or another, makes them feel defensive. Keep your relationship with your children about your children and the time you spend together.

Don’t ignore the other parent’s point of view – When creating a parenting schedule and other terms for what will happen with your children, you do want to keep the other parent’s point of view in mind. For example, celebrating a particular holiday may not be as important in your family’s as it is in your spouse’s. You may want to use that knowledge within the negotiation. So, instead of demanding the kids for Easter every other year—a holiday that may not be as important to you as your spouse–you let your spouse have that and you take another holiday, e.g. July 4.

Don’t hold your children’s secrets – A common result in a split between parents is that children will tell one parent something and not the other. This tactic often creates friction in what can already be tempestuous situation. For example, if your child is missing a lot of days at school, that’s something you should share with the other parent, even if your child would prefer you didn’t. Doing so helps avoid a second issue beyond your child missing school—stress between the two parents.

Don’t let your child change the schedule – Much thought goes into creating a parenting schedule as part of a divorce settlement. If a child does not want to visit, it’s incumbent on the other parent to back the other parent up and make sure the child goes. Cases where the child does not want to visit and the custodial parent does not support the other parent can get ugly very quickly.

Abraham Lincoln is often credited with the expression “It is better to remain silent and thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” In divorce mediation and collaborative divorce negotiation, many spouses make rash decisions without really thinking of the consequences, both short- and long-term. The risk always outweighs the reward in a divorce negotiation. That’s why what you don’t do—in the negotiation and in dealings with your ex—is just as critical as what you do.