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Deciding if divorce mediation is the right choice

Posted By Judy Williams || 25-Jan-2011

Since I’ve done mediation for thirteen years, I have seen three major times when mediation doesn’t work well. The first of those is when one or both parties come into the mediation with a hard and fast position from which they will not move. Mediation is built upon compromise, upon cooperation, upon give and take. If there isn’t that give and take, mediation may not be the best choice. The second time that I see mediations fail is if one person has all of the financial information and they are not sharing that information openly. If somebody is trying to hide assets or debts, mediation is not the avenue to take. The third way that I see mediations fail is if there is a difference in power of negotiating between the two parties. If one person has always been the dominant, controlling person in the relationship, made all the decisions and the other person has just been okay with going along, being docile, not rocking the boat, mediation may not be the best choice for that couple. Because, in the mediation setting, there are three of us sitting at the table talking about issues. There’s no advocate for you. So you both have to feel comfortable that you are able to say, “No, I don’t agree with that, I want to do this.”

So, as long as you don’t fall into any of those three categories, mediation may be the best choice for you. It’s quicker. It’s less expensive, and it’s certainly less emotional than litigation. If, however, you fall into any of those categories, then collaborative law is a very, very good choice for you. In collaborative law, you both hire an attorney, and those attorneys are specially trained in mediation and collaborative law. They sign an agreement with the parties that they are committed to settlement and that they are not going to go to court with those parties. To that core team, we add some professionals. We add mental health professionals who are going to work with each party as a coach just during the collaborative process to help with emotional issues, parenting plans. We also have a child specialist who would meet with any of the children and be their voice in the collaborative process. The last team member is the neutral financial specialist who gathers all the financial information and then helps the parties brain storm about what are the best options in order to divide the assets and debts and talk about support.

The collaborative process is a more complete process. It gives each party in the family support throughout the whole process. It gives them someone to call when they are having second thoughts or concerns. It is more expensive than mediation because there are more professionals involved, but there is a great value added to the collaborative process. It often teaches parents some very valuable skills that they come back and tell us later about. They say,” I learned how to communicate. I learned how to say what I need and learned how to listen to the other party. I learned how to parent better.” There is a wonderful component to collaborative that is a value-added. So basically, people have these three major choices in getting a divorce: litigation, mediation and collaborative law. I specialize only in the peaceful solutions of mediation or collaborative law. I invite you to call me; I’m happy to talk to you about what might be the best solution for you.

Categories: Divorce, Divorce Mediation

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