Divorce Mediation


"The thing I most appreciated about you was your understanding of the pain of dissolution and the supportive way you were able to help each of us come to terms with our losses."


Linda
Santa Cruz

How does Divorce Mediation work??

Divorce Mediation starts with an agreement between husband and wife to learn about mediation and try it. Mediation is voluntary! It only works when both agree to attend and commit to the process.

I set a morning appointment and reserve the day so your session isn't interrupted or concluded until you want to stop.

The session starts with everyone in the room at the same time. My conversation about the case doesn't begin until everyone has arrived.

Then, I explain the ground rules, including:

  • People speak in turn, trying not to interrupt the other.
  • Language and tone of conversation are civil, polite and courteous.
  • No threats, no ultimatums, no raised voices. 
  • We go over my standard Mediation Agreement, paragraph by paragraph and everyone will sign the Agreement before the we proceed.
  • The process is entirely confidential.  If there is no settlement, it's like the mediation never occurred.
  • The process is entirely voluntary.  If anyone wants to leave, she/he can do so.
  • I'll not express any personal opinions or predict outcomes on any issue unless asked by all.
  • I may meet with the parties separately and privately (called "caucus").
  • I'll not disclose anything I learn in caucus unless given permission to do so.
Then, I answer any questions about the process.

Next, each side describes the issues that are important to be resolved that day, and I make a list, usually on a large whiteboard.

I select items from the list and, one by one, we talk about what each person feels and believes is important about the item.  I make certain that each side is heard and understands how and why the other side feels as he/she does.

At that point, I attempt to facilitate the conversation so as to isolate the interests of each side and to obtain agreement and suitable resolution of each issue. 

The mediation continues until a roadblock appears.
A skilled mediator can maneuver around a roadblock and usually avoid impasse (stalemate).  
A very skilled mediator doesn't allow impasse to unnecessarily delay or poison the mediation.  
A very, very skilled mediator moves beyond impasse briskly and assists in obtaining agreed-upon resolution of each of the disputed items.

Once all the issues are decided, I prepare a brief, but enforceable, written Stipulation and Settlement Agreement which is signed by all.  You pay for my time before you leave.

What does divorce mediation feel like?

If divorce mediation is working well, these are some of the feelings you'll experience:
  • Privacy
  • Confidentiality
  • Empowerment
  • "I've been heard"
  • Relative comfort
  • "I never knew that..."
  • Similar interests with your spouse/partner
And these are some of the feelings you'll avoid (by not having to be in court for a hearing):
  • Fear
  • Misunderstanding
  • Unfamiliarity
  • Victimization 
  • "What is happening?"
  • "How expensive is this going to be?"
  • "When will this end?"


What does it feel like when a successful mediation is over?

For almost twenty years, I've been telling people that at the end of the mediation everyone feels just OK.

A good resolution at mediation doesn't result in hooting and hollering about success.  It doesn't cause one to call all his/her friends and brag about the great result.  Neither does it cause one to feel like there was a "winner" and a "loser."

A good resolution usually feels "OK".  You feel like it's good to have the dispute behind you and resolved.  You feel like there are certain things that you gave up (and didn't really want to at first), but you saw that the other side gave up some things, too.  There is a sense of contentment, rather than winning or losing.  And, all things considered, the result is OK.


Why do people Mediate Divorce disputes?

  • To avoid bitter conflict.                 
  • To save time and money.

  • To focus on their children.
  • To maintain dignity.

Professionals have surveyed individuals who have opted for Mediation instead of the adversarial court system and have assembled their reasons for choosing Mediation and their impressions of the advantages of Mediation.  Though the evidence is largely anecdotal, the consensus is that mediated agreements result in a greater sense of satisfaction with the process and in longer lasting agreements.