Take the BAT out of the BATTLE

Posted by: Shel Harrington 21 March, 2013 18 Comments

The divorce is on. Not what you had planned when you said “I do” way back when. The hostility has grown to the point of avoiding even being in the same room together, let alone actually speaking to each other. Every communication takes multiple steps as it is relayed and translated throughPortrait of angry lady with a bat attorneys. Costs are mounting. Emotions are escalating. Both sides are suiting up – ready to play hardball. Family members, co-workers, neighbors are dragged into the game and renamed “witnesses.” Each side wields a heavy bat – ready to knock the other side clean out of the ballpark with a mighty swing.

How do we take that BAT out of the BATTLE?

One good option is enlisting the help of a trained, objective third party – a mediator – to help the parties resolve their differences through negotiation and creative problem-solving.  The process is called mediation. The mediator is not a decision-maker – he or she assists the parties in making their own decisions.

“Tell me one good reason that I should sit in the same room with that *#{2303b849a176fc4c55cbcb5b49f44c0b6a86ba83e746fb3d962701d1b8d54085}! unreasonable spouse of mine whose face I can barely stand to look at right now and attempt to make agreements,” you say – probably while stamping your foot.

Well, I’ll give you five reasons. And they’re all good.

  1. Craft a resolution that is specific to your family. When you go to trial the ultimate outcome of each issue – custody, visitation, alimony, property division, etc. – will be decided by a judge you barely know and who does not know your children or your history. A good mediator will help you generate creative options that will lead to resolutions that make sense for your specific circumstances.
  2. Create physical distance between you and your spouse during the process. If things get heated, the mediator can have you and your spouse in separate rooms and the mediator can go back and forth between the rooms to assist you both in working toward resolution. You won’t get the same courtesy at the courthouse.
  3. Avoid the unknown. When you leave mediation with a settlement, you understand  the decisions and how they were made because you are one of the decision-makers. Going into a trial is a crapshoot – you don’t know how the judge will rule on any given issue or how long it will take you to get the ruling. And did I mention that decision-maker doesn’t know you, your children, or your history?
  4. Lessen the animosity. This is especially important if you have children. Often working together to reach a resolution that benefits the children makes it easier to live with the outcome than it would be if a judge dictated how often and when you see your children.
  5. Save money. Possibly a lot of money. If mediation is successful, no subpoenas have to be issued for witnesses, you don’t spend hours with your attorney preparing for trial testimony, and, more often than not, the process takes less time than a trial.
  6. Bonus. Witnesses are kept out of the fray and may resume their prior roles in your lives as friends and family.

The costs of mediation vary widely depending on the mediator and the area you live in. The same tips set forth in last month’s post How to Find a Divorce Lawyer could be used to find a good mediator.

If you are interested in getting you and your children through the difficult divorce process with less cost and chaos, try mediation. There is no 100{2303b849a176fc4c55cbcb5b49f44c0b6a86ba83e746fb3d962701d1b8d54085} guarantee that you will reach a settlement in mediation. But there is a 100{2303b849a176fc4c55cbcb5b49f44c0b6a86ba83e746fb3d962701d1b8d54085} guarantee with a trial that you won’t have a deciding vote in the outcome. It’s the end of the game, both parties are out, and bases are loaded with issues in conflict. Who do you want to take the final bat – you or an unknown?

If you have had an experience with mediation or have suggestions for using mediation, please let us know in the comment section below.

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18 Comments

  • Sheri Opat

    Shel, you handled my divorce in 1999 or 2000 and I wouldn’t hesitate referring family members, friends, ex-coworkers, etc… to you for their divorce.

    • Shel Harrington

      Hi, Sheri – nice to hear from you! I’m sorry your daughter is going through a challenging time. I saved the rest of your message elsewhere and sent you a responsive email. Please let me know if you do not receive it.

  • Denise Banks

    I’m a family/divorce mediator…. Your information is insightful and covers on sooooo many of the issues blocking my parents from moving on.

    How do I sign up for your blog?

    • Shel Harrington

      Hi Denise – so glad we connected! You have a challenging job – and one that can make all the difference regarding how the parties deal with the final resolution. Did you see the guest post from Kevyn Mattax here about how clients can prepare for mediation? Also helpful! I hope you’ll share your insight here often. Please let me know if you have a website and/or FB page we can visit.

  • […] with less damage than a trial can inflict. Having described the process and it’s benefits in previous articles, including why my perspective changed after participating in a mediation as a party, I thought […]

  • Thank you for clearly explaining the value of mediation. It makes sense for parents to see some positive conflict resolution skills in action to inspire them in the next stage of their relationship as co-parents. Great information!

    • Shel Harrington

      I agree, Lisa – it’s sets the tone going forward as well as introduces them to a process that they can make use of in the future if needed.

  • Michelle

    Speaking as a practicing divorce attorney, this is a great suggestion. Divorce trials can be very expensive and you have no control over the outcome. In the majority of cases the parties should at least consider mediation.

  • The logic in this is forehead-smacking, Shel – and clearly explained for we non-legal types. 🙂

  • Diane

    Very good advice!

  • Brandi Morgan

    Great post, Shel! As a family therapist, I’ve noticed that couples who mediate their divorces have less difficulty amicably resolving future issues that may arise as well. The adversarial process of a trial sets a certain tone for the future co-parenting relationship. Likewise, mediation sets a cooperative & collaborative tone for the future co-parenting relationship. Not to mention which process sets the better example for the children regarding conflict resolution.

  • Excellent discussion about some of the many benefits of mediation versus litigation. It’s great that more divorcing couples are turning toward this alternative.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thank youfor the services you provide – I love that you are willing to work with both divorcing parties without attorney as well as those who are represented. You are a wonderful asset in our community!

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