Common Mediation Misunderstandings
Whenever I’m presented with the opportunity, I love to explain all of the advantages of divorce mediation and what it entails. There are so many benefits that I sometimes feel like a never ending advertisement for the mediation profession. Unfortunately, even though the information is out there, there still exits many common misunderstandings when it comes to this topic. This could be because mediation is so severely underused so there is an obvious lack of knowledge. I would like to clear up some ideas of what mediation is certainly not. In doing so, this will help in understanding what the purpose of mediation actually is.
Can mediation bring a couple back together? Isn’t mediation non-combative so it gives the couples the opportunity to reconcile? Even though that would be really nice, mediation is not for reconciliation. A mediator’s role as a neutral third party is to help the divorcing parties communicate and work through the issues they will need to resolve in order to get divorced.
It’s easy to see why some people might think their mediator can double as the therapist. Many look up to the mediator as their divorce professional and think they can confide every aspect of their life to this person. After all, they the mediator is privy to many of the most private details of your intimate life. This is not the case, however. As mediators we can certainly be empathetic and take everybody’s feelings into account but since we are acting as neutral third parties we do not want to be seen as more or less empathetic to either party. If the one or both of the parties would like therapy by a licensed therapist, the mediator may recommend professionals.
Unlike Court, what we do in mediation is completely voluntary. The parties make decisions for themselves and are able to use creative problem solving to come up with solutions that might not have been available if they went the traditional court route. What this also means, is that if they don’t want to come up with anything they don’t have to either. Everything in the mediation is voluntary and will only arrive at an agreement if we have the consent of both parties.
Being a lawyer, I get asked legal advice all the time. I’m constantly having to explain to my mediation clients that as their mediator I cannot give legal advice. Giving legal advice would assume some kind of bias and as I am a neutral third party, I cannot give the appearance of non-neutrality. I can illustrate what the actual law is, however. But my main focus as a mediator is coming up with solutions that fit my clients needs and these are not legally focused. Every case and every family is different and my specialty is working with each of my unique clients and crafting real results that work for them.
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