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 of them and want to remain neutral.

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

Case study 2: Susan and Donald

Susan and Donald had been working in the same business, but she was getting tired of it. Susan started taking courses so she could begin another independent business. Once she started to disassociate herself from the business somewhat, Donald told her not to come in any more.

Their marriage deteriorated quickly. When it became obvious that they were splitting up, Susan told Donald that she wanted half of the business “My blood, sweat and tears are in that business,” she told him. “The only reason I didn’t come in was because you told me not to."

In addition to half of the business, Susan wanted the house. Donald said that she had a rich grandmother in whose house she could live, plus a trust account. He maintained that he had nowhere to go.

A shared bond: their own and each others' kids

Both Susan and Donald had children from previous marriages.

The kids really liked each other. So I had them focus on the fact that they didn’t want to hurt the children. They’d been living together for 15 years, and each child regarded the other as a parent. Both acknowledged that they had, indeed, been good parents to each other’s kids. So we definitely had some positive feelings to build on.

Since the kids were now teenagers, we didn’t try to arrange a formal parenting plan. In fact, there are no legal rights or obligations to see an ex-spouse’s previous children—even though her kids called him “Dad.�, and his kids called her "Mom."�

I helped them understand that it was important for the kids to retain relationships with both of them, and not to be cut off, even though there was no legal obligation to do so. In fact, Donald had been paying for Susan’s college-aged child’s college expenses.

Financial security concerns

For this particular family, there were bonds that still existed. So parenting issues were the first subjects that we addressed. She was hesitant to get divorced because of the financial implications. I explained in private and joint meetings that there was common ground on which to begin building a settlement.

Eventually, they negotiated an arrangement in which he continued to pay for her daughter’s tuition and college expenses. She, in turn, agreed to take less of the business than she had originally asked for.

There’s no way a court would have enforced his paying for the tuition. The settlement truly was one borne of negotiation and compromise. It worked out well for them.

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.