Clarity about process in Divorce Mediation is absolutely mandatory for success.
The concept of Divorce Mediation has proliferated in America in the last thirty years as divorcing parties have realized that divorce court should be an option of last resort. Divorce Mediation supports the decision making of the people whose lives are actually affected by the decisions and allows divorcing individuals a sense of control of the outcome IF it is done right.
Balance of Power:
Too much power on one side of the table creates an unsafe environment. The power could be due to the marital dynamic, control of financial resources of access to information. A skilled Divorce Mediator will recognize the power imbalance together with the dynamic creating it and set out to level the playing field.
Lack of a safe container leaves couples feeling lost in the ambiguity of a complicated decision making process set a midst a legal dispute. A skilled Divorce Mediator will insure the couple is constantly apprised of where they are in the process, next steps in the process, homework assignments to be completed and time-lines for their completion and maintain an awareness for the parties of the legal process they are engaging in.
“Mediators” are unregulated. There is no credential that guarantees a Divorce Mediator has the requisite knowledge and experience to assist a couple in navigating the largest financial transaction of their lives. Together with the proliferation of the Divorce Mediation process has come the proliferation of Divorce Mediators. Individuals with backgrounds varying from business owners to lawyers to accountants and financial advisors to Marriage and Family Therapists and Psychologists to law school graduates who never passed the bar exam and para-legals have hung up shingles as Divorce Mediators. Divorce Mediation is a process that can be taught. What can not be taught is the human dynamic that occurs during the process. For this reason it is important to engage a Divorce Mediator with experience and training specific to Divorce. This probably means a Lawyer and/or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
Beware the flat fee Divorce Mediation. I have never seen a couple successfully navigate and complete a divorce for a flat fee. It is an unfair expectation to set a client up for. Often the professional will reach the extent of the time they have allocated for the flat fee and ask for more money or begin to dis-engage and abandon the parties before the Divorce Mediation process has been completed. Divorce mediation is not always cheap. Failed mediation proceedings may be a complete waste of money and time. I see Divorce Mediation proceedings fail all of the time.
Divorce Mediation Defined:
Just because you resolve your differences outside of court does not mean you are engaging in Divorce Mediation. Mediation is a process where a Neutral facilitator guides a couple through decision making around legal, emotional and financial issues that must be resolved in a divorce. Most Divorce cases resolve outside of a court room in settlement conferences, Collaborative Divorce of formal settlement proposals via letters between legal counsel. Couples need to understand that Divorce Mediation is not the only way to resolve their differences outside of court. Many will be better served by a process where they have legal counsel actively engaged which usually does not occur in Mediation.
Wellspring Divorce Advisors helps individuals and couples address the financial aspects of divorce in a civilized, equitable, and efficient manner by providing expert divorce financial planning and advice.
Contact us to find out how we can help you through this process.