Mediation Myths and the Truth Behind Them
Mediation is a negotiated settlement conference with an independent person, the mediator, assisting the negotiations between the spouses. The mediator is trained to assist the negotiation toward resolution of the divorce.
From a mediator’s perspective, mediation seems to be easily misunderstood and a personal perspective can create a bad opinion of the process before even getting started because of someone else’s divorce or watching a t.v. ‘mediation’. 3 common myths about mediation are these:
1) Mediation is a waste of time;
2) I’ll have to sit with my spouse all day to try to reach an agreement, and I can’t do that, and;
3) ‘They’ won’t agree to anything.
But the truth is this:
1) Mediation is time well spent. Lawyers and clients who prepare for mediation are aware of the issues and aware of the possibilities for the day. Lawyers who are well-prepared for mediation are better able to navigate the ups and downs of the day. The lawyers and clients who are prepared can help the process move more quickly
2) Mediation in family law cases doesn’t mean divorcing people have to sit in the same room with your spouse all day. Family law mediators understand the unique circumstances of divorce. Usually, the parties sit in different rooms and the mediator goes between the two rooms throughout the day.
3) No one knows what the other person will ultimately agree to in any situation. Stick with making statements about what you can control. The mediator has usually asked one of the divorcing parties to come prepared with an offer to start the negotiations. And, once an offer is made, there will a counteroffer of some sort. Focused negotiations take time, but can be successful in cases that never seemed they would end.
Jill O’Connell is an experienced family law attorney and mediator. She may be reached at 940-497-5454.