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This is Divorce Mediation

Divorce hurts. Feelings of anger can simmer for years. The sense of rejection can linger into new relationships. For many people, the greatest agony of divorce can be the loss of self-respect. Faced with unrelenting anger and fear, many divorcing people are dismayed at the ease with which they abandon deeply held values such as respect, compassion, and empathy. The desire to hurt replaces what was once intense and abiding love. Revenge supplants caring. Aggression over civility. When these and other values are no longer expressed, self-respect and dignity are soon sacrificed.

For many divorcing couples, however, self-respect, compassion, and dignity are being preserved through a new approach to divorce called mediation. Divorce has traditionally been associated with the kind of hostility portrayed in box office success as War of the Roses. This traditional approach is adversarial in nature, often leading to intense hostility, expensive court maneuvering and a reduced amount of communication between parties. Many have found that in spite of initial good intentions, the adversarial approach complicated their divorce by turning small issues into large and complicated problems requiring a great deal of time and money to resolve. This experience has left many feeling victimized, unfairly treated, and a traitor to their values.

While necessary for some, not all couples need or want this kind of divorce. Mediation offers an alternative. using a specially trained neutral professional to help them, couples can now reach an agreement on divorce related issues without the fallout of an adversarial approach.

The mediator provides the couple with legal and financial information, help in understanding the psychological an emotional aspects of divorce and its impact on children and family, and conflict management skills. The mediator judges neither spouse concerning the reasons or motivations for the divorce and remains neutral throughout the process. The mediator's methods are designed to reduce hostility, enhance communication, and encourage the maintenance and expression of respect and caring between the couple and their family. Divorce no longer need be synonymous with tragedy and the loss of self-respect.

During divorce mediation, couples decide for themselves how, when, and under what conditions their divorce will occur. Divorce mediation is time limited, goal oriented, and agreement-focused. It is intended neither to save or improve a troubled marriage, like marriage counseling, nor to make decisions for a divorcing couple, such as occurs in arbitration. Rather, it provides the guidance and the environment for the couple to reach agreement on divorce related issues, to put those agreements in writing, and thus, to begin the process of moving into the future. Using mediation reduces the cost of divorce. Couples obtaining divorces using the two-attorney adversarial process spent 134 percent more in total fees than couples using a comprehensive divorce mediator to resolve all issues.

Studies also conclude that mediated divorces reduce hostility, increased couple satisfaction, and increased compliance with the mediated agreements.

one of the unique benefits of the mediation process is the way in which emotions are acknowledged without being allowed to block or hinder the goal of reaching an agreement. All too often, divorcing couples who use the traditional approach find that their anger is fueled by the adversarial process, and they begin to focus exclusively on their disagreements, losing sight of the things on which they agree. The value of mediation is that such feelings as anger, fear, and rejection can be expressed in a neutral, controlled environment where they can be interpreted and handled in a manner that permits their expression but reduces the likelihood of these emotions being misunderstood and causing an escalation of conflict. This fact, more than any other, most distinguishes mediation from other approaches to divorce.

Although new to divorce and family law, mediation is a time-tested approach to conflict resolution. A divorcing individual may find temporary satisfaction in taking a spouse "to the cleaners," but he or she will learn that the short-term satisfaction is not worth the long-term consequences. Mediation is the most effective way to help divorcing couples reach important and far-reaching decisions while maintaining their sense of humanity. Its success is easily measured in the positive response of those who have used it. Its greatest value, however, cannot be quantified: the sense of respect, compassion, and dignity it engenders. At a time when many lives are damaged by divorce, respect, compassion, and dignity can seem like priceless treasures.


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