What exactly is mediation?
Mediation is a process of principled negotiations. “Principled negotiation … is to decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and will not do. It suggests you look for mutual gains wherever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either party. The method of principled negotiations is hard on the merits and soft on the people. It employs no tricks and no posturing. Principled negotiation shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent. It enables you to be fair while protecting you against those who would take advantage of your fairness.” – Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and Bill Urey.
How does divorce mediation work?
Divorce Mediation is a process for resolving conflict. It requires that the parties to a dispute negotiate with each other with the express intention of attempting to reach a mutually acceptable solution. The solution is one based upon the parties’ own interests. The divorce mediator is impartial and assists the parties in carefully analyzing the logic and reasoning that form the basis of the positions that have previously resulted in an impasse. Furthermore, it involves the divorce mediator helping the parties develop solutions that represent the parties’ interests, not those of the divorce mediator.
What are the differences between the courtroom process
and divorce mediation?
The courtroom is a dicey place. The higher the stakes, the greater the impetus to reach a negotiated settlement and avoid the uncertainty of the courtroom. In a courtroom, the adversarial process focuses on logic and reason in determining the facts and how to interpret them. Emotional issues are filtered out of the discussion. In real life, though, emotional issues color the way we perceive and make sense of facts. Sometimes an airing of emotions is critical before the parties can even begin to reason with each other. In divorce mediation, I can help create a safe place for people to have the difficult emotional conversations that they have been unable or unwilling to have with each other.
What if my case involves a specialized area of the law or technical issues?
Every divorce mediator brings to the process his own background and experience. A familiarity with the vocabulary of the problem is sometimes helpful but rarely critical. Even a modest amount of preparation by a mediator is usually enough to assist the parties effectively.
Why is divorce mediation usually more cost-effective than a trial?
There is no reason to reinvent the wheel in every case. Divorce Mediation allows the parties to control the process of resolving their dispute. It is remarkable that cases that have languished in the court system for years can be settled in a day when the parties sit down at the divorce mediation table and talk. Early (pre-suit) divorce mediation often leads to an out-of-court settlement of the dispute, resulting in a substantial savings to both parties. Even if the parties fail to reach a settlement at the divorce mediation, the process itself is always helpful. The mediation can often provide answers to critical questions. A clearer understanding of the problem frequently leads to further negotiations and a settlement.
What is your guiding philosophy?
It is based on four concepts: impartiality, integrity, confidentiality and a commitment to the idea of self-determination.
Some people do not believe it is even possible for a divorce mediator to be truly neutral. Often during the divorce mediation a party turns to the mediator and asks: “What do you think I should do?” Some divorce mediators will tell him what to do. I will not. Instead, I rely on my ability to engage people in a rigorous examination of their assumptions and conclusions in order to help them see whether logic and reason support their arguments. I do not have a point of view to sell anyone and that gives me the freedom to poke and probe everyone’s thinking until they begin to come up with reasons to negotiate.
I remind people that in the judicial system there are only winners and losers. The question they have to answer is whether they want to resolve their differences or have a judge or six strangers on a jury do it for them. Divorce Mediation is not, however, an invitation to manipulate the parties into doing what I think is best for them.
Some divorce mediators have been described as “thrashers and bashers.” They make pronouncements like, “… You don’t have a very good case" or "that seems like a very generous offer.” The divorce mediator is thus using his or her position to influence the parties to accept his/her opinion. I strongly believe that if you give people the opportunity to decide what is best for them, they will. The central challenge and the great reward for me as a mediator is helping people understand the nature of the dispute and then finding solutions that make sense to them.
How do you handle emotionally charged divorce mediations?
I am not afraid to be in the presence of people who have strong feelings and need to express them. I have developed considerable skill at establishing ground rules and enforcing them so that the parties have a safe opportunity to have the difficult conversations that must take place in order for the negotiating process to have any chance of success.
What is your experience as a divorce mediator?
I have mediated a great many divorce cases. They have covered virtually every area of the law and involved a rainbow of people with a kaleidoscope of personalities and negotiating styles. I have accumulated more than 30 years of insight and experience that enables me to discern the back stories that people bring to the negotiating table. In these back stories are often hidden the clues to creative solutions that help settle cases. Read more about my experience here ».
Why should we work with you?
I am patient. I am willing to give people the time they need to work through the emotions involved in the dispute and then develop a rational strategy that will help them resolve the conflict.
I am persistent. I try to make divorce mediation an agreeable experience, but I do not patronize people. I can be very rigorous in my questioning. I go where my intellect takes me.
I am creative. People often assume that there is only one way to achieve a solution. It is a great challenge to help people think creatively when they are stuck.
I am compassionate, empathetic and willing to respect people and the choices they make.