Divorce is a traumatic and painful emotional experience for the divorcing couple and their family, and unfortunately the negative aspects of divorce are often exacerbated in the more traditional dispute resolution processes of litigation or attorney centered negotiations in which the clients feel powerless and without control over the process of divorce.
In mediation, on the other hand, the parties decide the resolution of their conflict with the assistance of a neutral mediator. This means that the divorcing couple has complete control as to the process of resolving the issues of their divorce, as well as the terms of the settlement itself. In addition, the Mediator can help the couple learn how to communicate and fully understand his or her spouse and hopefully learn to use these skills on their own to resolve any future differences.
The Mediator will work with the couple to reach a resolution of their differences through improving their understanding of the issues and the other person’s point of view. In this way, each party has the opportunity to express his and her point of view and is given support equally. Once the party’s interests and motivations are expressed and heard by the spouse, it makes it easier for them to devise creative solutions to their disputes together and reach a mutual agreement which satisfies both parties’ needs, as well as the needs of the entire family.
The key to a successful mediation is for both parties to feel they can express themselves in a non-confrontational, non-adversarial environment, and the mediator will maintain that safe environment. Does that mean that the couple will never express anger or frustration? Absolutely not. They are still going through a very difficult and emotional time and are not expected to be dispassionate or never show anger or resentment. Many times it is even necessary to have those difficult conversations in order to reach a settlement. The key is to insure that each party is heard, understood and has the tools necessary to make decisions.
Once the parties have reached an agreement that is suited to the needs of their particular family, a Separation Agreement is drafted, and it is recommended that the parties then seek the input of individual review attorneys before executing the agreement. The parties can then file for divorce or simply live as a legally separated couple pursuant to the terms of the Agreement. As with all facets of Mediation, the choice is up to the couple themselves.