How to Propose Mediation or Collaborative Divorce to Your Spouse

How to Propose Mediation or Collaborative Divorce to Your Spouse

Want to attempt mediation or collaborative divorce, but are unsure if your spouse is going to agree to it? Below is how to ask your spouse for getting a “yes”.

When you have chosen to suggest mediation or collaboration to your spouse, take a little time finding out what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Keep reading for some suggestions, in addition to some dos and don’ts to take into account.

Orally or in Writing

When you and your spouse communicate fairly well face-to-face or over the phone, you might be able to suggest mediation or use collaborative law by simply talking to your spouse about it. When your spouse tends to react negatively to your ideas and suggestions during conversations, or when you are not on speaking terms, then propose if in writing.

Knowing What to Say

Whether you make the suggestion in person, on the phone, or in writing, suggest mediation or collaborative divorce in a manner that is unbiased and non-threatening. Give your spouse information without making them feel like it’s about being pressured or sold something. If you’re proposing mediation or collaboration in writing, think about writing a draft letter and having a loyal friend or consultant examine it before sending the final letter to your spouse. Should you make the proposal in person or over the phone, plan ahead what you are going to say, and write down some notes concerning it. Maybe practice with a friend to be sure you set the proper tone and cover all the bases you need to make.

Providing Pamphlets and Other Materials

When you have pamphlets or other printed materials clarifying mediation, consider giving them to your spouse to go over. Same holds true with any good websites or other information you’ve discovered. In this manner, you both of would be using the same viewpoint as you address if, how, and who to mediate with.

Proposing a Specific Mediator

Subject to your situation, you might want to begin the process of trying to locate a mediator prior to you suggesting mediation to your spouse, or you might want to wait until they can take an active part in the selection process.

When you have already made a list of mediators, with information concerning their fees and procedures, give the list to your spouse so they can choose from it. This provides your spouse the proof that you are prepared to share information and gives them a say in what happens. In that manner, the mediation is more probable to begin on a cooperative tone.

Should you contact the possible mediators in advance is subject to whether your spouse is going to view this as an attempt to sway the mediator to your side instead of an impartial request for typical information. If you are doubting this, it might be best to stay away from prior contact with the mediators you want to decide on. You can typically find something out about mediators in your area without talking to them directly. Then you can let your spouse know what you’ve discovered and assure them that you haven’t jeopardized the mediator’s objectivity by making the preliminary contact.

When your spouse is likely to view with distrust anyone you recommend, propose mediation in common terms and offer to think about a mediator recommended by your spouse. You can still look at possible mediators in your area so you can make a conscious choice on your spouse’s recommendation, but you can prevent giving your spouse a feeling of being coerced or ordered to.

If you are suggesting collaborative divorce, and if neither of has retained an attorney, it’s perfectly fine with giving your spouse a pamphlet or other information that lists local attorneys with knowledge in collaborative practice. Nevertheless, avoid suggesting specific attorneys for your spouse, unless your spouse explicitly requests it.

The Dos and Don’ts of Proposing Mediation or Collaboration

Which way you decide to go about suggesting mediation or collaborative divorce, it is important to express to your spouse your willingness to take their point of view on if, when, how, and with who to begin the process in account. This paves the way for successful negotiations after you start. Below are 7 simple rules to keep in mind:

Do some research. Research on mediation or collaboration, the way it works, what the cost is, and who offers it in your area. Read books such as Divorce Without Court, by Katherine Stoner. Speak with people experienced in mediation and collaboration.

Do give unbiased reasoning for meditation or collaboration. Bring up that mediation or collaboration is less costly for both of you and that it is going to help you reach a fair and cordial settlement.

Do offer to share details. Let your spouse know what you’ve learned concerning mediators or collaborative lawyers around you. When you have pamphlets or other printed materials from possible mediators or collaborative lawyers, provide copies for your spouse.

Do provide your spouse with choices. Show your willingness to be compliant from the start by asking your spouse’s position concerning your proposal. When you are suggesting mediation, offer a list of several mediators to select from, and ask your spouse to propose a mediator.

Don’t try a hard sell. Provide your spouse with a short rundown why you believe using mediation or collaboration is a wise decision, offer to provide the information you have, and provide your spouse with a selection of mediators. Then step back and wait for their answer. They are more likely to fully participate in the mediation or collaboration when there’s no feeling of pressure.

Don’t intimidate or condescend. It is one thing to mention that mediation or collaboration is going to be less expensive and be less vindictive than litigation. It’s entirely another to assert that you are going to take them to court and clean them out when your offer to mediate or collaborate is declined. Don’t forget, mediation and collaborative law are optional. Show your spouse you comprehend this by avoiding threats. And don’t act like an expert on mediation or collaboration when you share the information you’ve gathered. Mediation—or collaboration—is negotiations among equals. You don’t want your spouse to think you feel better than them before you’ve even begun.

Do try again. When your spouse doesn’t respond to the proposal, or declines entirely, don’t abandon the idea. Your spouse might need a reminder, or the time might not be quite practical. Find an opening and ask once more. No matter how far you are in the divorce process, mediating an agreement on the remaining matters—or settling them collaboratively—saves time and money.


  1. Emily Doskow, A. (2013, April 3). How to propose mediation or collaborative divorce to your spouse. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from

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