Spouses come to divorce mediators for a variety of reasons. Some couples need help because they don’t agree. Others simply need help writing up their agreements. Still others need to learn more about the territory of divorce so that they know what needs to be decided and how to go about it. Most are unclear about the divorce process. Often it’s a combination of these. Divorce mediator help can include all these areas.
A fairly simple definition of divorce mediation is “facilitated communication and understanding for agreement.” Divorce mediation may include resolving some conflict. But for many divorcing couples the level of conflict is lower than you might expect. A divorce mediator’s assistance is most often in the realm of education and problem solving.
What divorcing couples generally want is help:
- understanding the divorce process;
- understanding the areas of decision-making that are required;
- collecting and understanding the information relevant to these areas;
- organizing the process and keeping it on the rails; and
- resolving the sticky or difficult areas.
Divorce mediation isn’t a forum for delivering victories or perfect solutions. It’s good to realize up front that the decision-making needs to be cooperative and adaptive. Spouses have different perspectives and needs. Divorce unfortunately usually involves making do with less. So it’s not a matter of what’s ideal. After all this is a divorce. A more realistic question is which of the possible options are better.
A divorce mediator helps couples work out arrangements for the future – who will do what and when. The aim is not necessarily to resolve tensions between the spouses, their differing perspectives or even why things will be done. The agreements and arrangements reached may simply allow each spouse to make enough progress and have enough clarity to declare an overall “state of agreement.” This will usually be preferable to continuing with an uncertain and stressful lack of agreement and resolution.