For many years, I watched the results of breakup in my courtroom. It is clear to me is that how the initial breakup is handled sets the tone for the entire process. Mediation is a positive dispute resolution process that resolves litigation at a fraction of the cost – in time, money, and emotional pain. – Judge Michele Lowrance (Ret), Mediator
What is Mediation?
The Healing Power of Mediation
“Learning from love and the pain of the disintegration of that love is a valuable use of our time.”
The agony of divorce is universal; no matter what the tax bracket or the profile of the disputants. That pain can also become a dark legacy passed on from generation to generation. Case in point: statistics say that over 60% of the children of divorce do not plan to marry or have children themselves.
Why do emotions tend to run hot during the divorce process? Love and attachment create a special emotional bond that is hard-wired in every human being. Whenever there is the threat of separation or divorce, a danger signal is sent to the brain, causing people to feel as if their very survival is threatened. In that state, stress-related hormones flow and more primitive emotions may erupt. This can, in turn, negatively affect one’s decision-making and problem-solving abilities.
The mediation process will not only help reduce difficult emotions, but it can also utilize such feelings to dissipate stress and help parties to reach settlement. Using the latest neuroscience research on how people behave in conflict and under stress, my personal goal for mediation is to allow clients to engage in conflict productively. Thisfosters opportunities for clear decision-making that leads to positive and lasting solutions.
The Advantages of Mediation
Save money. Mediation is a cost-effective step when parties need to avoid high legal fees or money is running low, or when parties feel pressured to settle for the “wrong reasons.”
Expedite the process. Unlike packed courtroom schedules that may delay resolution for as much as a year, mediation can take place virtually anywhere and at any time, at the mutual convenience of the parties and their mediator.
Ease tensions. By overcoming roadblocks to communication and diminishing tension, a mediator assists parties in coming to a better understanding of each other’s views.
Find common ground. Mediation focuses on genuine needs and interests instead of stated positions, emphasizing potential gains while minimizing losses for both parties. Mediated solutions are also more flexible and durable because disputants have a greater say in crafting them.
Benefit from healthy compromise. People often interpret an attorney’s pressure to compromise as not being “on their side.” When a mediator suggests a compromising solution, parties and their attorneys are often more receptive.
Reduce fear. Mediation enables partners to exercise their personal power, which may include retreating or making concessions without losing self-respect or sparking personal recriminations. This is also important when one party is more reticent or uncomfortable with communicating his or her personal needs and concerns.
Ensure confidentiality. A mediator can encourage parties to disclose information about hidden needs, priorities, and aspirations that they would never share with an adversary. Personal or financial matters can be freely discussed without fear of disclosure, or that the information could become part of the public record.
Preserve relationships. Personal positions that could adversely affect future communications can be reframed, preserving relationships that may be damaged or destroyed through years of litigation.
Protect the family. When one parent declares war against another, the damage and trauma inflicted will not only affect any children involved, but it can also contaminate a family for generations. Mediation can dissipate tensions and reduce negative impacts when children are struggling and parties are suffering.
Look to the future. Mediation maintains a focus on the future – which is essential when an ongoing relationship will be necessary. Along with helping to preserve a relationship in ways that are not possible in an adversarial process, mediation can also help foster greater amicability during the termination of a relationship.
Inspire compliance. While concessions may be requested from each side during the process, the mediation process is more positive and productive than trying to force parties into some kind of a settlement. Disputants who reach an agreement through mediation are also more likely to comply with terms, reducing the possibility of future stress.
Increase future involvement. Parents who choose mediation remain more involved in their children’s lives after separation or divorce – and they see each other as better parents.
Experience greater satisfaction. Because there is no winner or loser in the mediation process, parties generally walk away feeling more satisfied. If a later dispute arises, they are also more likely to choose a cooperative forum like mediation to resolve their differences.
Who needs Mediation?
Mediation is a viable solution for divorcing couples (including same-sex couples) as well as separating parties who have never been married. Work with a mediator is beneficial during any point of the litigation proceedings, and before and after a divorce decree.