Mediation Methods: Choosing the Strategy that Works Best for You
“A good settlement is better than a good lawsuit.” – Abraham Lincoln
An Overview of the Mediation Process
The domestic relations mediation process is voluntary, non-binding and there are no public records of the proceedings. The mediator’s role, as a neutral third party, is to assist both parties in their private and confidential negotiations by clearly identifying the impediments to a mutually agreed upon settlement and developing the strategies necessary to overcome them.
Divorce is never a pleasant process even when both parties agree that their relationship must end. Highly-charged emotions are often involved when couples are in discussions about the details of how and when to terminate the relationship. During these difficult times, using the services of a highly-skilled and experienced family law mediator can help you to work together to craft a mutually agreed upon settlement.
Elissa Bercovitz: Thoughts on Mediation
My job as a Colorado family law attorney and a divorce mediator is work with both parties to craft a fair and equitable agreement. I recognize how difficult it is to handle the emotional aspects inherent in a family law matter. There is often an overwhelming sense of loss associated with separating from your spouse and in many ways, couples often feel as if they are losing their past, their present and their future. You are in the process of letting go of everything you and your soon to be former spouse acquired over your many years together and this process is complicated. When working with mediation clients, I strive to help my clients work together in a professional and respectful manner to compromise and to resolve the differences that are preventing them from moving forward. In the mediation session, I will work with both parties to create an agreement that considers the needs of each party, the needs of the children involved, and the needs of the family. Even though you may not be living together in the same house, it is important to remember that you are still and will forever be a family.
The Colorado Mediation Process
Under ideal circumstances, divorce mediation entails a process where the separating couple is in the same room with the mediator and they work together to negotiate an amicable settlement . The mediator helps the couple understand their rights and options per Colorado law, assists them in the collection and sharing of their financial data, and supports them to maintain a cooperative and respectful environment in which to reach their goals.
Your Comfort Level in Mediation is Important
It is part of the mediator’s role to ensure that both parties are comfortable and secure in the mediation process. Before the mediation takes place, each party will first speak with the mediator privately and have the opportunity to raise their concerns and gain assurance. You will also work with your mediator to determine the most effective method for your situation. Some couples are very comfortable working together in the same room and others prefer a shuttle method where the mediator works with the parties in separate rooms.
The Ground Rules for a Successful Mediation Session
There are basic ground rules for behavior in mediation and the mediator will work with both parties to maintain an environment that is secure and respectful. The mediator will allow the parties an equal opportunity to express their thoughts and to listen to what the other party is sharing. The mediator will also ensure that each person understands the details of the discussions so that they can make fully informed decisions before signing a legal agreement.
Mediating in a Joint Session
For couples who are amicable and have been in consistent communication about the details of their separation, the face-to-face divorce mediation process generally proceeds very well. A joint session can also work for couples in conflict if the mediator can help them to maintain the professional environment necessary to focus on their settlement goals and a positive future.
Mediating in Separate Rooms
While the face-to-face meeting generally used during the mediation process may work for most couples, there are others for whom the two-room method may be the best alternative to help them reach their goals.
When high-conflict couples are so adversarial that being in the same room does little more than allow them an opportunity to vent the many reasons for their anger, having separate spaces can provide the best option. When a couple is struggling to keep their emotions in check, the two-room method may be the best way to create the foundation necessary to obtain an agreement. When that the parties are placed in separate rooms, the mediator will go between them, share what each party is saying, and help them negotiate an agreement.
When it is more likely for couples with unresolved anger issues to mediate successfully when kept apart, it may also be wise to arrange for staggered arrival and departure times. Eliminating the possibility of confrontations before and/or after the mediation can reduce the possibility of a stressful and unproductive encounter between the two parties. Keeping a high conflict couple apart can keep emotions in check and help them to feel more secure prior to and during the mediation. Creating a stable and secure environment will help them focus on creating an agreement that will finalize their divorce and allow them to move forward to a healthier and more positive future.
Personalizing the Mediation Method Best for You
Whatever the method of mediation you choose, it is important to know that even if mediation is in process, you have the option to separate if you have started in the same room or ask to be in the same room if you began separately. You can work with your mediator to determine the most effective and viable option for your situation. The important thing is to feel that you are making progress toward an amicable agreement and the creation of a more positive future.
Inviting Your Colorado Family Law Attorneys to Your Divorce Mediation
Domestic relations mediation sessions often involve just the divorcing parties working together with the mediator. The party’s lawyers may or may not attend the mediation depending on your preferences. That is a decision that both parties can discuss and make with their lawyers.
Elissa Bercovitz mediates with:
1. Pro se parties
2. Those who are represented by a family law attorney and want their lawyers present at the mediation
3. Those who are represented by a family law attorney, but want to attend the mediation without their lawyers and discuss the mediation with counsel following the sessions
Scheduling a Free Consultation for Your Domestic Relations Mediation
Call Elissa Bercovitz at: (303) 803-1678.