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Qualities couples need to bring to the table for effective mediation

Divorce can obviously be a contentious process for some couples, and the more contentious the divorce is, the more difficult it is to work through disputes in property division, child custody and visitation. Couples who ultimately cannot come to an agreement have to get a judge involved in these decisions, but this often isn't an ideal situation.                 

For some couples, resolving disputes over property and child custody is something they can do on their own, or on their own with a bit of guidance and directed dialogue and negotiation. This is what is aimed at in divorce mediation. Mediation has the potential, for some couples, to be a great alternative to court-based divorce. Among the common  benefits are cost savings, confidentiality, and better control over the outcome of the case.

Despite all the potential benefits of mediation, the process doesn't work for every couple. For one thing, the process must be approached with the right attitude for it to be effective. Couples must be willing to peacefully be in the same room as the other person, to communicate honestly, openly and respectfully, and to listen to and acknowledge the needs of each other. Depending on the interpersonal dynamics a couple has had during their marriage, this may be a challenging task.

Couples must be willing, in the mediation process, to set aside past wrongs and the question of sentiments of superiority. The goal in any mediation isn't to mimic the adversarial process, to determine who is right and who is wrong, but to work together to come up with sustainable solutions to the couple's disagreements.

In our next post, we'll speak a bit more about what makes an agreement sustainable and what a mediator can do to help couples get there.

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