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The Empowering Aspect of Mediation

January 5, 2015  | 
The Empowering Aspect of Mediation By Clare A. Piro

[Time to Read: 4.1 mins]

At the initial consultation, clients often express concern that within the process of mediation they may not “get a good deal.” They wonder if they will be able to mediate because they do not have the same financial expertise as the other party, or perhaps the other party is more educated or has more business savvy. Whether these feelings are real or perceived, they can be a barrier to the clients’ ability to feel comfortable with the process and secure in the knowledge that the decisions they make are sound.

I tell clients that within mediation, they can obtain all of the help and guidance they need to make good decisions for themselves and their family. They may consult:

An attorney:

  • To learn their legal rights and responsibilities before they begin mediation
  • To discuss terms of settlement that they can propose in mediation
  • To accompany them to the mediation, if all parties agree

A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)

  • To get help in making a budget and assembling financial information
  • To educate themselves on financial matters
  • To accompany them to the mediation, if all parties agree

I saw this in action as a consulting attorney to a client in mediation. She had attended a few sessions, and they had reached tentative agreements on most major points. However, the client was unsure and uncomfortable with the terms and her ability to make ends meet. Yet, she did not voice her concerns in the mediation because her husband had a much stronger personality.

I advised her not only as to the law, but also how she could raise her concerns in the mediation and offer alternatives. I also referred her to a CDFA, both so that she could feel comfortable asking questions that she was afraid to raise in the mediation and also so that the CDFA could assemble written backup to show how untenable the terms her husband proposed would ultimately be for her.

Six months later she returned for a consultation with a very different plan and a very different voice. She was unrecognizable as the woman with whom I first consulted. She even came armed with a table showing how her future costs for medical insurance would cripple her financially; a chart that she devised herself with no help from the CDFA.

She told me that the mediator suggested I attend the next session, and I was glad to hear her say, that she didn’t want me to attend. She wanted to do this on her own and felt that she was capable of advocating for herself at this point. She did in fact do so, and the parties did reach a mutual agreement in the best interests of both parties and their children.

Had she gone to an attorney who didn’t recognize how a person can achieve knowledge and empowerment in the mediation process, that attorney likely would have told her that she should not be in mediation without offering alternatives to keep her in mediation while ensuring her interests were protected. She may have ended up with a similar settlement, but she never would have gained the strength and knowledge that came with being her own advocate.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

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

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Comments
Maryann M
February 7, 2015 - 5:59 PM
When a client can come out of a divorce a stronger person than when they went in it is a real positive. Divorce is devastaing and to not be destroyed but rather in someway be empowered it ican only help that person face the future. Mediation is a kinder gentler process.
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