When I initially get a phone call about mediation, 60% of the time it’s a woman calling. We don't discuss the underlying reason that the couple wants a divorce, because I'll be working with both spouses and want to remain neutral.

Here are examples of mediations I conducted with three real couples. The names, of course, are fictitious.

Case study 1: Carole and Jack

Jack had been having an affair. Carole found out. As far as she was concerned, their marriage was over.

Neither of them wanted to talk about it. Actually, I still don’t know the nature of the affair or its length. But I did need to know the overall dynamics of the situation, to understand what was in their heads, since they’d stopped communicating with each other.

The couple weren’t speaking

The fact that he’d had an affair slipped out of Carole’s mouth. Then she clammed up. Resentment and anger were filling the room, but they didn’t want to talk about it. In cases like this, I sometimes find it’s essential to talk to them separately. I sometimes just say, “It would help me if I spoke to you individually.”

Clients know they can speak to me separately. Our conversation will be private and confidential, unless they tell me it’s OK to share.

If I can help her get past the anger, or at least put it aside momentarily, and acknowledge what she’s feeling, we’re likely to get to a resolution sooner.

In this case, during the mediation, I said to Carole, “What I hear from the tone of your voice is that you’re very hurt. Is that right? Her acknowledging her emotional anguish was critical. For the first time, the injurer, Jack, didn’t hear, “You bastard, look what you’ve done.” Instead, he realized that he’d caused her a great deal of pain. In such circumstances, it’s not unusual for the injurer to respond—as Jack did—with "I didn’t mean to hurt you. It happened, and I feel terrible about it.”

At last, a breakthrough

I knew we could move forward.

In this case, Carole and Jack had two kids under the age of 10. So we addressed the parenting plan first. Once we figured out access to the children, then we went to the financial stuff. It turns out that Jack had a substantial pension. He hadn’t realized that because it was earned during the marriage, it was considered a marital asset. The pension was so important to him that we worked out a solution in which Carole kept the house and received a lump sum of money. He kept his pension.

No court would have created such a solution. Courts are not designed to be creative. They make decisions that have little to do with your life. Unlike how they would have felt at the end of a court process, at the end of the mediation process, this couple was pleased with their Agreement.

Disclaimer Notice: The information contained herein is considered advertising. It is informational in nature and pertains to New York law. It is not legal advice about a legal problem, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information on this Website should not be used in place of retaining counsel. We cannot guarantee the same results we secured with any of the case studies cited on this Website. Images of people shown on the pages of this Website are representative and do not portray actual clients of Sheryl-Anne Sastow.