Successfully Navigating Mediation: Beyond the Myths and Misconceptions
In this series of posts, we’ve begun an in-depth conversation about divorce mediation—from the strategies that empower participants to reach resolutions to how the psychological muscles you build during mediation help you succeed in the life you want, post-divorce. Let’s discuss a few of the major themes we’ve discussed, as well as review some other resources to continue the conversation.
Lose the Myths
An important first step in successful mediation is having clear expectations, understanding exactly what mediation can and cannot do. Gary J. Friedman, co-founder of the Center for Understanding in Conflict and author of A Guide to Divorce Mediation, shared with us some of the popular misconceptions and realities of mediation. Through this dialogue, you learned that…
- Mediation doesn’t require you to compromise on what is the most dear to you.
- Mediation requires civil behavior, but it doesn’t mean you and your ex must be friends.
- Mediation still allows you to bring in experts to help you come to a fair conclusion. You don’t have to go it alone.
- Popular entertainment has sold you an idea that divorce must be angry and chaotic, but that just isn’t true.
In a marriage, compromise is useful. But in a divorce, compromise may lead to both parties being unhappy. Instead, Friedman argues, get to know yourself and your boundaries. Discover what you need—and what you won’t compromise on.
Miscommunication, tough emotional subjects, cultural differences, flashpoints, like children or co-owned businesses, can all make for extra stress. Use that list of must-haves as a guiding North Star, you will walk away more satisfied and less distracted along the way.
Mediation: Revealing the Value of a Support System
The tools you’ve become expert at in the process of mediation will come in handy in your post-divorce life. One of the most critical? Support. Realizing that it’s invaluable to have a team of people, from those with expert opinions to those there for moral support.
No matter where you are in the divorce process, talking to others can be enormously helpful. There are many divorce support groups throughout the region. To meet other people with similar experiences (but without a therapy framework), there are other local, more casual gatherings (New York, New Rochelle and White Plains).
In the area, Cornell University organizes a program specifically for children going through divorce. There are also many online resources, often organized by religious faith.
Divorce is going to be just another piece of the tapestry that makes you YOU.
Mediation is an important alternative to the dramatic courtroom scenes you’ve watched in TV and movies. That doesn’t mean mediation is always easy. However, with the right approach and some guidance, mediation may be the best path to the new life you want.
For help navigating divorce mediation, contact us at Westchester Family Law to schedule a confidential consultation.