By Scott C. Marks, Attorney, Mediator, Collaborative Professional
Often, parties to a mediated or a collaborative divorce have not, for weeks, spoken directly with each other about the issues at hand. This is because those discussions are difficult and painful and often end in impasse. That is where a mediator or collaborative team can be beneficial.
Discussion is at the center of mediation and collaborative process. The parties are encouraged and empowered to communicate. The mediator or the collaborative professionals assist them to express their concerns, hear what the other is saying and explore solutions. Thereby, they gain a better understanding of each other’s motivations and needs, which can lead to compromise. Because the outcome is their own, they generally find it acceptable and reasonable. Furthermore, a successful mediation or collaborative outcome shows them that they can resolve disagreements and thereby lessen future conflict. The parties have thereby taken responsibility for the outcome.
On the other hand, when parties become frustrated by their inability to communicate with each other in a constructive manner, nothing gets resolved and the dispute festers. When one party finally reaches his or her limit or a crisis requires immediate attention, they default to filing a case in court. They therefore leave it to a stranger, a judge, to decide important issues that impact their lives and the lives of their children. What’s more, there is a good likelihood that one or both parties will be unhappy with the outcome. Further, the adversarial nature of litigation, with its allegations and counter-allegations, throws salt into already open emotional wounds, pushing the parties further apart and leaving long-lasting scars.
Scott is a co-founder of North Shore Collaborative Divorce. His office is in Salem.