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Afraid to Mediate?

March 15, 2016  | 
Afraid to Mediate?

{3:54 minutes to read} Clients in initial consultations are sometimes hesitant to begin mediation because of:

  • Fear the other will take advantage of them and the process;
  • Friends and family saying they should have a lawyer fight for them;
  • The other person having a greater advantage in bargaining power.

In previous posts, I’ve written how those kinds of concerns can be overcome in the process of mediation. You can have the support of legal, financial and mental health professionals, in and out of the process, to help you understand the law and advocate for yourself.

It’s much more difficult to address the concerns of clients who are hesitant for other reasons–reasons that are even scarier to them; They are afraid to take this step because it is a very big one requiring an acknowledgement that the relationship is ending. And with the end of the relationship, comes the fear of:

  • Being alone;
  • Being financially insecure;
  • Being without your best friend. 

If you avoid going to mediation, you believe that can retain the relationship and avoid all the scary things.

I understand that. I have put my head in the sand on more occasions than I like to remember, thinking that the problem will just go away. Unfortunately, it never does, and ignoring a problem rarely leads to a good outcome.
In this case, ignoring your spouse or partner’s request to mediate will only lead to that person taking the only other step available to him or her– hiring an attorney. With that will come anger at your refusal to end the relationship in what that person believes is a more healthy and constructive way. And along with that anger may also come a refusal to compromise which probably would not have been the case in mediation.

So, if you’ve exhausted all of the options for repairing your relationship, including attending marriage counseling, and you are hoping that refusing to mediate will mean that your relationship will continue, it likely will not, or at least not in the way you would like it be. Please recognize that it may just lead to a more destructive relationship and ultimately, to a more adversarial and painful end to that relationship.

Instead, I suggest being honest with your spouse or partner about what is at the root of your reluctance. Express your fears and concerns. Those fears and concerns can and should be addressed in the mediation. If you need more time to deal with your loss, you can request that time for seeing a therapist or a divorce coach. As part of the request, offer a time in the near future when you believe you will be able to move forward and then, honor that commitment.
Your spouse does not want to cause you unnecessary angst or pain, but does want to take the steps to end your relationship. It would be best to do that together, rather than go through a more adversarial process.

Afraid to mediate? Sometimes sharing your concerns leads to answers you never thought about. Feel free to share your thoughts in the reply box below.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

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

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