As has been noted in this blog and recurrently in family law-related media articles, divorcing parties that opt for mediation rather than a court-directed divorce do so for highly varied reasons.
In some instances, for example, a divorcing couple is most concerned that they will lose all control over the divorce process if they cannot decide on important matters and must leave ultimate determinations up to a judge. Where control is a predominant concern, mediation clients often choose to engage in divorce mediation in order to better set the agenda and together decide key matters.
In other instances, issues such as time, money, the desire to communicate in a comparatively informal atmosphere and scheduling flexibility are centrally important, with mediation being perceived as the optimal forum to promote those interests.
In an article written recently by a media contributor and mediator, the point is made that an experienced and perceptive mediator flatly knows that a couple coming into mediation might have mixed feelings about the process. In a sense, many couples are suspending judgment at the outset, with a degree of trust being withheld until a mediator’s worth is well established.
Little can substitute for broad experience in a mediator to ensure mediation success, defined as a couple’s agreement that the process was evenhanded and produced an equitable result.
Mediation experience, supplemented by formal certification and specialized training, is required for an understanding on how to optimally balance competing issues and foster trust during mediation. A couple might want to set the agenda, but divorcing spouses still need timely and trust-inducing input from their mediator.
Knowing when to remain silent and when to speak up, when to let a couple hash things out and when to convey a legal truth, requires a skill set that is sharpened only through experience.
That experience in a mediator can go far toward ensuring a couple’s trust and yielding an outcome they find mutually acceptable.
Source: Huffington Post, “Mediator as truthsayer,” Laurie Israel, Oct. 23, 2013