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Client Directed Mediation

Posted By Judy Williams || 1-Aug-2014

Client-Directed Mediation Individualizes the Divorce Process

All human beings were created uniquely different. And all marital relationships are unique as well. When current statistics show that more than half of today’s marriages will fail, that reality should dictate that divorce proceedings should be unique, too. It seems that many family law mediators have a set agenda for divorce mediations, always beginning with one particular issue and moving down their agenda methodically.

At the Center for Mediated Divorce in Orange County, California, we have observed divorcing couples for nearly twenty years and find that each situation is unique with a unique set of issues and possible solutions. At CMD, each divorcing couple is given the opportunity at the very beginning of the process to frame their individual issues and then prioritize them to best meet their needs and the needs of their families.

Most divorcing couples choose mediation for the most obvious reason: it’s less expensive and preserves the couple’s assets to be divided. The second most-listed reason for choosing mediation is to keep the emotions in check and to preserve relationships with children, family and friends long after the divorce has been granted.

At the Center for Mediated Divorce couples have the added advantage of setting their own priorities and goals. They are led to discuss the issues they each believe to be important and then are encouraged to create a “road map” to reach agreements and solutions of their own particular situation.

  • Couples often ask: “What will be do in the first session?”

  • The answer at CMD is: “What is most important for you to discuss and to decide first?”

  • Couples are often stunned that THEY are in charge of developing a plan to reach consensus on their own particular issues.

Sometimes couples are most concerned about the house they jointly own. They are concerned with who will stay in the house; will they co-own it after the divorce; will they put it on the market immediately or will it need repairs or updating; will one of them be able to buy-out the other’s interest…and on and on.

Sometimes couples are most concerned with parenting plans. They are concerned with where the children will live primarily and whether they will be able to attend the same schools. They are concerned with how they will share the children’s expenses. They want to consider whether the children will be able to remain in their extra-curricular activities.

Sometimes couples have already been separated for some time and are concerned about how to equalize expenses which have been paid by one of them; or how to split standing joint expenses; or how to equalize assets or accounts which have

been partially used. Couples are encouraged to devise a unique plan that each agrees will give them a fair path to future success.

Occasionally, couples have very unique issues with a disabled child needing special funding or parenting. Caring for an elderly parent occasionally is a concern of one of the parties and may be the first issue the couple feels they need to address.

Through many years of experience at CMD, we have learned that the most effective method to guide each unique couple through the standard process is to ask lots of questions at the very beginning. Once there is a List of Issues, the couple prioritizes the List; and it’s then easy to begin discussions and move through the issues.

Client-directed Mediation affords couples the ability to discuss — at the very beginning of the process — all of the issues that will be decided in the course of the mediation. They will prioritize their List of Issues and begin to methodically discuss and decide issues in an organized way. They always have the option of changing the priorities because THEY, not the Mediator, are in the charge of the process.

Taking control of the process and the schedule empowers the couple to be “in charge.” They are empowered to control the pace of the process, the organization of issues to be decided, and the outcome of all discussions. Client-directed Mediation is a ore positive approach to completing a Dissolution of Marriage. It employs all of the positives of mediation itself and puts the couple in charge of the best decision-making principles.

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