Can mediation truly work for a couple going through a divorce? It may be hard to imagine it can, especially when you have been embroiled in a conflict. The fact is that many divorcing (and non-divorcing) couples tend to fall into the same fights over and over again — and that is exactly why a neutral third person can help.
Mediation is a process used for resolving conflict. Experienced mediators such as myself can help you move through the issues and find new ground for resolution. Here's how:
Mediators are neutral
We won't take sides with you against your spouse, or with your spouse against you. Instead, we work with you to increase your understanding of each other and your conflict. We won't make decisions for you — only you will decide what is best for your future.
You have the control
Mediation allows you to have control over the process. You don't agree to the terms until you feel that you can live with them. You schedule appointments on your time-frame, and can take the time you need between meetings to gather information or consider proposals. Mediation is private and confidential, so that things such as cash income can be discussed frankly.
Conflict is painful
Because of this, most people have a drive to resolve conflict. When people understand the sources of conflict, there is a huge release of creative energy, which leads to terrific brainstorming sessions about how to solve the problem and end the conflict.
How Mediators Work
I begin to work with people by identifying all of the unresolved issues. We go through a detailed checklist to identify where there is already agreement, and where we need additional information and/or discussion. Each person gets to tell me his/her side of the story, so I can hear as much as possible about what each party needs to move forward with his/her life. I give each person a pen and paper so they can write down ideas without having to interrupt the speaker.
Once all the issues are on the table, we can begin to delve deeper into different points to gain an increased understanding. When that understanding is there, problem solving begins.
Once both spouses agree, I begin to draft a Memorandum or Agreement reflecting our discussions. Most of the people with whom I work will then take the completed agreement to attorneys for review. Some people, however, come to mediation because they want to avoid having multiple third-party professionals involved in their divorce. If that is the case, it's important that you use your sessions to discuss the options, pros and cons, and the role that you and your spouse would like attorneys to have in your divorce.
The Ins and Outs of Mediation, a Q&A with mediator, Rachel Fishman Green
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