Previously, we have discussed why it is beneficial to have your mediator also be a CDFA® and the reasons why. Check out that blog here. Now, we will discuss the ways in which it is beneficial for your mediator to be a CDFA® when you are not getting divorced! That may sound odd, but as a family mediation firm, we work with all things “family,” and not just with couples going through a divorce. Premarital mediation and post-marital mediation to name a couple.
CDFA® in Premarital Mediation
Premarital mediation is a service we offer for couples who are getting married and wish to have some of the hard discussions surrounding their upcoming nuptials and life together prior to walking down the aisle. Sometimes these mediations will result in a premarital agreement, but they don’t have to. It can be so inspiring to sit down with your soon-to-be spouse and have a conversation as to how you will handle money in your marriage. These are for sure, difficult conversations; however, it is more difficult to NOT have them. That is how couples end up coming to see us for our other service (divorce mediation…). Love is fantastic and finding that one person who feels like they complete you is rare and should be protected at all costs. The best way to assure a great marriage is to know each other well – the good the bad and the ugly!
We will discuss various topics in premarital mediation, and work towards setting proper expectations between you and your soon-to-be spouse. Questions will be asked about your current income, assets, and debts. We will discuss your spending and saving habits. We will discuss the desire to have children and how doing so may impact your relationship. Will one of you stay home with the children when they are young? Can you afford to do that? Is there an expectation that there will always be one parent at home? Are their educational goals still need to be met by one or both of you? If so, how will any student loan be handled? What if you separate – how will the loans be handled then?
The Importance of Premarital Mediation
After reading the paragraph above, does it make you nauseous to think of having these conversations with your soon-to-be spouse? If it does, that is a strong indicator that the conversation is vitally important to have. There is nothing more stabilizing for a marriage than going into it with your eyes wide open and a deep understanding of your partner’s desires, as well as knowing that your needs and desires have been heard and will not be a surprise 3 years down the road.
So how can a CDFA® help with these conversations? So similarly, to how they help in a divorce process, a CDFA® (or a mediator who is also trained as a CDFA®) has an understanding of the finances and which issues we see pop up when relationships fall apart. We are uniquely situated where we see both sides of the couple. The beginning when everyone is blinded by love – and the end, when it turns out that just love wasn’t enough. We can help you and your partner avoid the common issues that bring people to us for a divorce because we are deeply familiar with what those issues are. We can discuss the ways in which we see the topics we set forth above unravel when there was never a discussion about them prior to tying the knot! Even very simple strategies like printing out values of everything in your name around the date you get married are so important, yet never done. As your financial mediator, we can help you put together the checklist that is important to both of you and provide best practices as we have come to know them based on our years of working with couples through a variety of situations. Have the tough talks early on, not when it is too late.
If you DON’T have the talk early on (prior to getting married) but realize quickly, you really should have had these conversations, never fear – marital mediation is here!
CDFA® in Marital Mediation
Marital Mediation is a process very similar to premarital mediation. We discuss similar topics and try to get both spouses back on the same page. We facilitate communication between them, as that always seems to be the first issue of a struggling relationship. Our goal going into marital mediation is to turn the relationship around and get it back on the right path before things get to a place where all hope is lost. We ask the hard questions, and we expect participation and more than anything, honesty. Healing cannot begin until everyone gets real with each other. At the end of this process, a written agreement is drafted (a Marital Agreement), to memorialize the party’s understanding of what the expectations are of each other. It is there to provide accountability. No one can later come back and say, “I didn’t agree to that” or “that is not how I understood it.” Instead, there is a clear and concise agreement that keeps everyone accountable for their promises.
In both services, having a mediator who is also a CDFA® provides an immense benefit that you can only get from this combination. We are not acting as a therapist and digging deep down to fix all your issues from childhood. We are simply using our expertise as a professional mediator and CDFA® to help guide the conversation and highlight important topics and nuances of said topics to allow you and your partner to really walk away with a deep understanding of your spouse (or soon-to-be spouse) and hopefully, learn what they expect from you and your marriage as well.
Your marriage can be your biggest joy or your greatest regret. Setting yourself up for success from the very beginning helps to avoid falling into the latter category. We want you to be successful in your relationship. If we can save all of the relationships instead of helping couples dissolve them, that would be the best legacy West Coast Family Mediation could ever leave.
by: Jennifer Segura