Divorce And Peace - It's Not Incompatible.
When someone says “I’m getting a divorce,” what images and thoughts popup in your mind? A bloody war? Anger? Revenge? Pain? Tens of thousands of dollars wasted on lawyers? I’m sure there are many more negative connotations you can think about.
I believe that divorce can be obtained amicably, and that is why I focus and dedicate myself to helping couples obtain a PeacefulSplit®. Let me be clear: peacefully doesn’t mean or equate with painlessly. Divorce is invariably painful. Men get hurt. Women get hurt. Children get hurt. But, the level of pain and hurt is not absolute. In this article, I explore how divorce can be done peacefully.
How Is Traditional Divorce Different Than A PeacefulSplit®?
In the traditional model of divorce, a couple – who likely has difficulty communicating and showing respect for one another – files papers in court, or hires lawyers, and the battle begins. How it will end is anyone’s guess, but it often ends with no real winners but plenty of losers. How much will it cost? Who knows! How long will it take? Who knows! How ill it end? Who knows!
In a PeacefulSplit® mediated divorce, I work hand-in-hand with the couple to resolve the issues required to obtain a divorce. For example, I guide and facilitate the couple’s negotiations over issues such as alimony, division of assets and debts, insurance, sale of the marital home, child support, shared-parental responsibility, time-sharing and educationally-related issues.
My role as mediator is to guide both spouses to a point where they can accept what I refer to as the “Both/And.” That is, the understanding that that divorce does not and should not mean that “either” Spouse One got the better of the other spouse “or” Spouse Two walked away the winner. When both feel that their divorce settlement is acceptable and they are ready to move on with their lives, I know that my job was successful.
Mediation Focuses On Solutions - Not Problems!
How Is A PeacefulSplit® Mediation More Peaceful?
So how do two people seeking divorce work peacefully? First, it takes pre-mediation planning and discussions. I don’t believe that you can just throw two people who want to end their marriage in a room together and hope they can negotiate effectively and in good-faith. I speak with the couple numerous times prior to the first mediation session to explain the process and purpose of mediation, establish clear and reasonable expectations, and reiterate the alternative resolution possibilities. It is no different than building a skyscraper; without a solid and well-established foundation, the end result will never be straight, tall and long-lasting.
Second, in my opinion, it takes a skilled and experienced mediator who has been negotiating a variety of deals throughout his or her professional career. As an attorney with 25+ years experience, I have negotiated hundreds of deals and settlements within individuals, business and insurance companies. Learning to allow others to express themselves so they feel adequately heard, but not allowing those expressions to transform into the abyss, takes maturity and self-discipline on the part of the mediator. In addition to being a lawyer and mediator, I am also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I focus on combining all of my professional skills and education to benefit both spouses in the mediated negotiations.
Lastly, it takes the ability and skill to help each spouse to understand that in the most successful negotiated agreements, neither party should feel like they truly won. Mediation is not winning and losing. If the husband leaves mediation feeling he is the victor in the process, then mediation wasn’t truly successful. Likewise, if the wife leaves mediation feeling she is the victor in the process, then mediation wasn’t truly successful. The best negotiated mediated settlements leave both spouses feeling like they can live with the agreement, but don’t love everything about it. That really means that both parties did not get everything they desired, but got an agreement they can accept. Mediation is not about going for the win or with the goal of “all-or-nothing” results. Rather, it is a delicate process whereby two people who choose not to be married any longer (and in the case with children understand that they will forever be parents) nevertheless have a mindset that they want to end the marriage with dignity, self-respect and control over the process.