When contemplating divorce, couples are faced with many difficult decisions. How do we keep our children safe and protected through the divorce process? How do we divide our assets? Is there enough money to maintain a reasonable standard of living? Do we have to sell our house in order to keep two households afloat? Will we be able to talk to each other about important family issues after our divorce?
In the midst of the emotional chaos, many couples take the litigation route, with each spouse retaining an attorney. For the majority, there does not seem to be any other option. A small, but growing, percentage of separating couples, however, choose the alternative route of mediation. For these couples, the attraction of mediation lies in its upfront benefits: time efficiency, cost effectiveness, and a neutral forum in which to negotiate and resolve differences. But what about after mediation? Are these benefits realized? Are there other advantages that couples do not anticipate?
To answer these questions, the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution sends each individual a questionnaire asking how the mediation process worked or didn’t work for them; how we could improve the mediation experience; and if they felt comfortable recommending the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution to friends who were contemplating divorce. We would like to share with you the thoughts of clients who have recently been through the mediation process and have the benefit of hindsight in evaluating if it “worked for them.” Following are a sample of the questions we asked and the client responses we received:
What was the most difficult aspect or task within the mediation process? What was the easiest?
“The experience was constructive—except for the fact it was about a divorce I didn’t want. The most difficult part was putting a value that my husband could accept on how much the marriage set my career back.”
“I believe the process is more thorough than one would go through with a lawyer or on their own (unless they were very disciplined.) The most difficult aspect was to sit with my spouse and sort through the difficult financial decisions and agreements. But with the assistance of the mediator, I was able to work out an agreeable situation with an angry partner.”
“Wonderful process; much more civil than the lawyer route. Most difficult was interacting with my former spouse while feeling hostile. I did not find any aspect easy.”
“Mediation was the best thing we ever did with the exception of children.”
“The mediation process was very positive. I had difficulty figuring out expenses, but Lynne (Dr. Halem) patiently guided me through the process. I learned a lot!”
Would you recommend mediation to others if they were considering separation and/or divorce?
“Absolutely – I can’t even imagine doing this without Lynne (Dr. Halem).”
“I think the process went pretty well. The best thing we got out of mediation was having such a detailed agreement. It has made all of our lives a lot easier.”
‘’I have recommended mediation primarily so that the individuals have a full understanding of their agreement.”
“I would recommend this wonderful person, Lynne Halem, without reservation and would certainly use her again if ever needed.”
“Yes, I would recommend it if both parties were willing to spend the time and could communicate in spite of differences and if they were sincere about the interests of their children.”
“Yes, and have made several referrals already.”
Please write a paragraph about your experiences with mediation.
“Our differences in coming to the table were not huge, but were certainly there. Dr. Halem helped us navigate through each item on our list of points we wanted covered and bring them to resolution. Personally, I had great frustrations with my ex about assets and retirement benefits. Dr. Halem explained thoughtfully, completely and in a very clear way why 35 years of marriage was considered to be a ‘lifelong marriage’ and that the moral way to handle this gave consideration to my well being as well as my ex’s for retirement years.”
“Thank you for all the help and guidance you provided over the last several months. Your dedication to the process is quite admirable, and your interest in seeing things work out for my wife and me was much appreciated.”
“I found the mediation process fair, helpful and even (dare I say this?) Pastoral. Speaking for myself, I think this was the best decision we made in this painful process. I think my ex agrees. Thank you for your professional and caring approach and persona!”
“Our daughters have a real sense of relief that we were able to disentangle ourselves so gracefully, and we are, I think, doing a reasonably good job parenting them through the normal ups and downs of their adolescence/early adulthood. My ex and I are getting along well, working to forge whatever our new relationship as separate people will be, and looking forward to becoming grandparents next month.”
Please feel free to call the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution with any questions or concerns you may have regarding mediation.
Please Call Our Office For Answers To Your Questions – 781.239.1600