There are few situations more likely to produce tension and crisis than marital discord. Two people with diverging interests, goals, and feelings are involved in a struggle but have a complex physical and emotional history. This is fertile ground for conflict and drama. When facing this crisis couples have a choice, once they decide on divorce, to hire a lawyer or a mediator. If your high conflict divorce with open anger and conflict you may want to go the mediation techniques route because mediators are professionals at diffusing crisis.
The family counseling training that mediators and their associates go through give them the tools to be both an advocate and neutral third party who can sift through the recriminations, accusations, and hostility to find answers-- answers that ultimately achieve a fair and equitable divorce agreement. Mediation is a process of advocacy rather than adversarial confrontation. Legally litigated divorces can make couples adversaries and that simply fuels the fire in emotionally charged divorces. "He said," "She said," "He did this," "She did that," are all the wood that burns the fire of drama and crisis. An attorney does not seek resolution unless it effects the final settlement. But a mediator has an entirely different motivation-finding a sea of calm that facilitates a fair airing of the truth and bringing a "reality check" to the whole process.
In most cases, just having a third person present will calm down a confrontation and in mediation there is always that neutral third person, who by their presence alone, can bring calm to the storm. But more than just being there, a mediator listens, translates, and moderates a productive discussion that works toward equitable solutions. The value of a calm and measured discussion is greatly overlooked in the divorce process. But mediators have long known that little is accomplished in the chaos of recrimination. True equity is achieved when both parties are calm, rational, and reasonable.
Diffusing a crisis takes a lot of listening and translating. When people lash out their statements are often very distorted and it takes a trained listener to filter the anger out of fact and translate that statement to their spouse without the bitterness and confusion. Directing couples in simple relaxation and breathing techniques is also used to reduce tension and improve a couple's experience in mediation.
Attorneys who encounter highly charged divorces frequently just throw up their hands and stop returning phone calls. Sometimes they just chalk this up to the very nature of the divorce process. But mediators strongly believe that drama is not necessary in the process. They have seen and worked with many couples who entered mediation with tension, anxiety, and anger and, with the appropriate support, found relief. With therapists and life coaches available through many mediation agencies, additional support is easily available at reasonable rates. The growing use of divorce mediation speaks to participant's satisfaction with this alternative to litigated divorce. It will not only save you money but save you months of turmoil and in the end you will have a settlement that reflects both spouse's true positions.
By Brian Connor James
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