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Breaking up, how does it work?

Breaking up refers as well to divorcing and the dissolvement of a cohabitation contract.

Letting go during a period of breaking up could be described as a reversed period of falling in love. The intensity, the broad spectrum of emotions and mostly the tangle of thoughts all together, can make that parties are experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed by their own story. This does not only complicate matters in terms of being able to have a moment for the emotions of the other one, but it is also complicating matters in terms of reaching agreements on how to proceed. Answers to questions such as:

  • How is the financial position for both parties going to look like?
  • What is the contingent legal settlement?
  • If any, what will be the best solution for the children?

are on their own hard enough to agree upon. This is exactly why during a turbulent time as breaking up is, a mediator with relevant knowledge is one of those points that can provide peace and space. Furthermore, having a mediator ensures to go through the process in good way by taking it one step at a time. Below, the breaking up mediation guidebook from AVANT Mediation, presented in 6 steps, is to be found.

Step by step


Introductions and intake

In this informative conversation the mediation process will be explained.

In this first phase of the mediation, the ins and outs are going to be explained. Matters as impartiality and neutrality of the mediator will be clarified, as well as the opportunity to ask questions is offered. Frequently, tension has built up to a high extend before both of the parties are meeting each other at the mediation table. Therefore, the possibility is there to subsequently start with a mediation session.


2. Exploration

The exploration of all the matters that need to be settled and discussed.

During this step both of the parties are going to explain what they believe are the matters that need to be discussed and settled during the mediation. Additionally, there is space for each individual’s narrative. The parties are in charge of the pace and prioritization of the matters. For example, which practical matters should be addressed first?


Parenting plan

The dynamic and sustainable agreements about the upbringing and the well-being of the children.

If there are children within the family, it is mandatory to conduct a parenting plan. As part of this plan the parents are going to explain and agree how the upbringing of the children is going to be continued. Possible questions that will need to be answered are: ‘Where are the children going to be and during what amount of time?’ and ‘How are the parents going to keep in touch about matters concerning the children?’. The interest of the children is key element here.


Settlement agreement

The draft and signing of the made agreements.

In this phase, all the matters that need to be agreed upon are going to be discussed in detail. Mostly these matters are about children and/or partner alimentation, or how the common funds are going to be divided. If all the agreements are made, the mediator will put them in a settlement agreement which the parties will sign after.


Legal processing

Reporting the dissolution of being together at the legal authorities.

In case of a divorce or dissolution of a cohabitation-contract, the settlement agreement will be send to a court. After the endorsement of the court, the divorce or dissolution will be registered at the municipality. This means that on paper, the process of breaking up as come to an end.


New narrative

The closure of the mediation and the opening of a new chapter.

When all the steps have been completed, the time has come to say goodbye in terms of how the partner relation was. If one takes a moment to close off the phase of being together, new space will appear to start a new narrative.

The advantage of mediation

The biggest advantage of mediation is that all the aspects of breaking up are going to be discussed at a pace that suits both parties. The process will be facilitated by a professional: the mediator, who has up-to-date knowledge on handling the legal and fiscal aspects of a break up. This provides solid ground and peace during this turbulent time. Furthermore, it provides a moment to notice what happens emotionally and how to create the best arrangement of parental access, and the best joined upbringing, in case there are young children involved. In comparison with taking it up to court, this is a big contrast. There, the judge will rule how everything after the breaking up will look like for both of the parties. The self-determination of the parties is quite reduced in such a process.


In a mediation where parties are breaking up, the mediator facilitates the conversation. In these talks the mediator is always impartial and neutral. Both of the parties will come to sustainable and dynamic agreements and in alignment with each other.


Mediation is there for everyone who would like to resolve a dispute without the loss of self-determination. The voluntary basis and the will to resolve the issues are the key elements of the mediation. Building on those, the parties will search for possible outcomes in an environment which is facilitated by the mediator.


The mediator can be seen as an interlocutor and he or she will guard the progress of the process. It is up to the parties themselves to reach an agreement. They can do so via the mediator who facilitates a look in each other’s narratives.


The biggest advantage of mediation in comparison with a court’s rule is that the parties involved align on the agreements. In that sense, both of them have input and therefore there is no lack of self-determination. This will enhance the acceptance and compliance of the agreements. In contrast, the result of a judge verdict can be that there is diminished acceptance and compliance due to the fact that those are imposed by a third party, rather than agreed upon by the parties themselves.