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Take the Time to Let Mediation Work

May 2, 2016  | 

{3:48 minutes to read} As someone who is making a sincere effort to be mindful and present, and also as someone to whom these qualities do not come naturally, I understand how difficult it is to be patient. When you are in the midst of a divorce and want it to all be over yesterday, it’s even more of a challenge to let things work out in their own time.

If you want to mediate, I urge you to undertake this challenge with as much forbearance as you are able to muster. Mediation requires an element of trust in the process; trust to allow it to proceed at its own pace.

And it’s not only clients who need to be patient. Experienced mediators, too, may anticipate what the resolution could be for the parties—but have to exercise patience to permit the parties to reach their own resolution at their own pace.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of wanting something to move along more efficiently and feeling that someone seems to be putting up roadblocks. Whether it’s the other client or myself as the mediator putting on the brakes, I try to help clients who are anxious to get going and understand the value of patience with the process.
Patience starts with the review of the Agreement to Mediate. Clients are chomping at the bit to get started and I can see that some are being polite and listening despite seeing it as a waste of precious time. But a focus on the Agreement to Mediate is a very necessary first step and well worth the time it takes. To understand and buy in to the process, you need to understand:

  • The roles of the mediator and the clients;
  • Disclosure;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Consultants; and
  • Fees you will be charged.

Then, as you move to substantive discussions, exercising patience can lead to an outcome that may not have been possible at first. It might be an outcome that neither the parties nor the mediator may have anticipated. It might be a breakthrough that arises from the passage of time between meetings, or it might be something that one or both parties initially rejected, but after going through an evaluation of other options, can now accept.

All of that said, there is a difference between being patient with the mediation process and permitting obstruction. The party may be:

  • Deliberately delaying the mediation;
  • Not doing what is required between meetings;
  • Not producing documents; or
  • Cancelling appointments.

These actions are not a question of patience, and the mediator needs to address whether or not the parties are both fully committed to the process.

Under the best of circumstances, patience is not easy, so it can be almost impossible to be patient when you feel that you are in a state of suspension until you sign that separation agreement. Instead, try to view each meeting as another step closer to the ultimate act of signing your separation agreement and being divorced.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

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

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