Can those in high-conflict divorces still attempt mediation?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Divorce

Divorce litigation can be a very stressful process with no certain outcome guaranteed, which can make parents and those with valuable assets (understandably) very nervous. A judge’s interpretation of state law and perspective of a family’s circumstances will have an outsized influence on the final terms set for a contentious divorce. Many people prefer to have a great deal of control over their divorce proceedings, which is why millions of couples opt for attorney-led negotiation, mediation or a combination of both approaches.

Mediation is a process of negotiating with the support of a neutral professional to arrive at an agreement that facilitates the interests of both spouses. When successful, mediation gives divorcing couples the final say in everything from property division to custody matters. However, many people assume that mediation won’t work for them because they’re navigating a high-conflict divorce and can’t even seem to be in the same room with their spouse without a disagreement erupting. In reality, mediation is sometimes very effective in high-conflict divorce scenarios, provided that thoughtful safeguards are put into place.

Shuttle mediation can keep everyone separate

People often visualize mediation as a process that requires everyone to sit down together in the same room. There will need to be very intense discussions if the session is to end with an agreement that both spouses will voluntarily sign. That approach is often the most efficient, but it is far from the only form of mediation possible. People who can’t image sitting down face-to-face with their spouse can potentially use shuttle mediation to resolve their disagreements about the divorce terms. Shuttle mediation gets its name from the mediator moving back and forth between separate spaces to communicate with both parties.

Research has shown that shuttle mediation can potentially even work in couples that have had historical issues with domestic violence. Keeping the parties separate while still communicating with each other can potentially lead to solutions that everyone agrees will work for the family. Occasionally, spouses can mediate in the same room with each other if they prepare ahead of time by it discussing the right approach with their lawyer and committing to keeping the process on track.

Learning about different forms of mediation can help people find one that can potentially work even when spouses struggle to be calm in each other’s presence.

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