Mediation – An Excellent Approach to Resolving Divorce and Custody Matters
October 25, 2012


Mediation – we all hear about the use of mediation and mediators to assist management and major league football, basketball and hockey players resolve salary disputes.  This fall we listened as mediators assisted in the resolution of the Chicago teachers strike.  Mediation is a process that is contractually mandated in many business settings.  And for good reason – the process is effective, avoids litigation and in most instances permits disputing parties to resolve their differences and move on.  The mediation process can be just as effective and beneficial in helping individuals who are embroiled in divorce and custody disputes.

What is mediation?

The textbook definition of mediation is “a process in which a professionally-trained individual acts as an impartial third party to help resolve disputes.”  The mediator facilitates the negotiation process.  That definition works for labor disputes and disputes in the corporate world.  But, further explanation is necessary to explain why the process is just as effective for parties embroiled in family disputes.

The mediation process offers parties an opportunity to talk with each other in a safe neutral setting to see if they can resolve problems in a manner most appropriate to their individual situation.  The process helps parties have a conversation that permits them to decide issues, thereby guaranteeing that their lives and the lives of their children are decided by them and not by a Judge or other third party.

The process is designed to make the parties feel safe for several primary reasons.

First, it is completely voluntary.  Both parties have veto power and no one can be forced to reach an agreement with which they are not comfortable.  Either party can end a session, or, for that matter, stop the whole process at any time.  Even Court ordered mediation only requires that parties attend – not settle.

Second, the process is confidential.  The mediator talks to no one outside of a session, unless permission is given by both parties.  Likewise, the parties agree not to use in litigation, if that occurs, conversations from their mediation sessions.

Finally, the mediator is neutral and helps both parties identify what is important to him or her and to hear what is important to the other party.

The mediation process has been utilized successfully in all settings and should be seriously considered as an alternative to litigation in custody and divorce matters.