As one of the few accredited mediators in New York, I see many couples come to me to mediate their divorce. Couples choose mediation for many reasons:
- They want to save money.
- They want to reduce emotional stress.
- They want to create the most workable, long lasting agreements.
- They want the divorce process to be as short as possible.
Often, however, when trying to accomplish the noble goal of getting through the divorce quickly and amicably, they actually hinder the process by making a common mistake. This ends up costing them more time, more stress, and more money.
What is this big mistake that I so often see? “Working things out” BEFORE the mediation.
I understand the thought process that these couples are going through. However, by trying to work things out prior to going to mediation, they’re doing things in reverse order. These couples call me to reschedule for weeks later, because they’re “working things out” on their own. When I hear this, I explain to them that one of the reasons that they’re getting divorced is that they can’t communicate as a couple. They’ve likely been trying to communicate for years and they are unable to do so. Divorcing couples are riddled with emotional baggage in their relationship. This impedes their ability to think logically and communicate effectively, which in turn, creates additional emotional hurdles, and muddies their thoughts about the prospect of going to mediation.
Additionally, mediating divorces where the couple advises me that they’ve actually “worked things out” before their first mediation tend to actually be the harder mediations to conclude. Why? Seems strange, no? In actuality, when couples “work things out” on their own, they typically don’t consider all the legal and logistical factors that need to be considered in a divorce. And when the legal issues and missing factors are brought into the conversation at mediation, the couple struggles, as they have become stuck in their positions. I then have the difficult task of “unsticking” them. This is no easy task and has to be handled with careful expertise, as the issues such as parenting time and splitting moneys are now even more emotionally charged.
As a divorce mediator, my role is to:
- Neutrally help the couple communicate and to offer creative ideas to help the couple find solutions;
- Neutrally explain the law and weave it into consideration; and
- Neutrally help the couple create a mutually agreed upon, thorough agreement.
The best piece of advice I can offer to any couple coming to divorce mediation, is to come with an open mind. Don’t try to agree upon issues before coming to mediation. Don’t even discuss them. This approach opens the door to creating solutions, and solid, lasting agreements.
Give me a call so I can further help you understand the process in depth. I’ve been doing mediations for over 20 years. It really works. I have offices in Great Neck, Plainview and Manhattan. I can help you.