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When Moving On is More Important Than Discerning the Truth

April 19, 2017  | 

{3:48 minutes to read} While the history of a client’s relationship is obviously relevant to them, its relevance to the mediation is not necessarily the same. If there is a dispute as to whether or not an event occurred, my role is not to determine the truth. That would be in the realm of litigation.

In mediation, its relevance has to do with the effect that those beliefs about past events have on each party’s ability to work with the other in the process and reach a resolution. That is a difficult enough task, so I am grateful that I don’t need to resolve whether an event actually happened in the way one client believes it did or not.

Recently I dealt with one of the more difficult issues that arise in mediation, an affair. Unlike other mediations in which one party had an affair, this one was different because one party fervently believed her spouse had an affair, while the other just as adamantly denied it.

After hearing both parties speak, I made it clear that neither the process nor I would be able to, or even attempt to, determine the truth of the matter. Instead, I made sure that each party was understood, and then we moved on to proposals that would address the concerns that each had raised.

Being Heard

It was important for the wife not just to express the hurt she felt from being betrayed, but also the anger she felt at her husband’s continuous denials. She had what she believed to be incontrovertible evidence, and he was denying it as if she were delusional. So, on top of the hurt was what she perceived as an insult to her intelligence.

The husband felt tired of being wrongfully accused. He felt the victim of baseless allegations, and no matter how he tried to refute them, his wife would not believe him. He was also concerned that her extreme anger was filtering to the children and that eventually her accusations would be made in their presence. He wanted to move out to calm things down but he couldn’t see how that could be achieved financially.

Moving On

In response to my request for proposals going forward, the husband expressed how important it would be for them to physically separate, given how difficult it was to live in their present circumstances. While there were some difficult financial considerations that needed to be addressed, the wife was in agreement and made reasonable proposals as to how they could make it work. They both agreed to focus on the children and that it would be best for them to separate immediately. They also agreed upon how to tell the children he would be leaving and not to speak disparagingly to each other, in or out of the children’s presence.

So, while both parties were still unwilling to concede the point regarding the affair, they both realized that the other would never change their beliefs. After being heard, they each were able to get to a place where they could get past it and move forward.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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