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In Divorce Mediation, when the couple gets stuck on an issue and cannot agree to its resolution, we call that reaching an impasse. Divorce mediation is a voluntary process so if you cannot agree there is not a third party to make the decision for you as there would be in court or arbitration. Divorce Mediation can be a daunting prospect for a couple who is eager to save money and time, but who is not sure that they will be able to agree. Before you completely quash the idea of trying to dissolve your marriage through mediation, rest assured that a trained mediator is skilled in getting you beyond an impasse and into an agreement.  Moreover, a mediator who is also an experienced divorce attorney will be competent in the law and familiar with trends within the court system.  When you combine the mediation skills with the legal knowledge and experience, you have a winning combination.

So just how does an experienced Divorce Attorney Mediator go about getting you and your spouse unstuck? I am glad you asked. Below, I will share three of the ways that I help couples get beyond an impasse.

Trial Periods

An area where couples frequently reach impasse is the custody of their children. Because of the importance of this issue and the greater likelihood of it causing difficulties for the parties, we start with custody early in the mediation process. Often, your divorce will be the first time you will have periods of time where your child(ren) will be in someone else’s custody. The feeling that you have lost access or control over your child(ren)’s well-being is frightening. So much so, that many parents lock down on a schedule that he or she is comfortable with and rigidly defend that schedule.

Unfortunately, when we refuse to consider any proposal besides our own, the other side feels that he or she must do the same. And before you know it, we can find ourselves drawing lines in the sand and stating that we will not agree to anything but what we have offered.  Ultimatums are rarely a good way to get another person to agree with us, and Divorce Mediation is no exception. Adopting solutions for trial periods, however, is much more effective.

In custody matters, we find a custody schedule that both parties are willing to try risk-free. By risk-free, I mean that both parents agree that the schedule is not binding, but rather an investigation into what is in the child(ren)’s best interest. We later revisit the schedule at an appointed time to discuss the pros and cons. Then we consider whether to change it or try another schedule. After conducting a trial schedule or two, parents usually find a happy medium that addresses the child(ren)’s needs, which is the primary focus of any custody schedule. And the fears that the parents initially held diminishes as the experience of co-parenting replaces the unknown.

Mediator Recommendations

In addition to or as an alternative to trial periods, I also offer Mediator Recommendations.  As a divorce mediation attorney, neutral evaluations are one of the advantages that I can provide which non-attorney mediators cannot. I have spent more than eight years litigating cases in family court, so I am intimately familiar with both the law and the Judicial officers who are enforcing those laws.  I  stay abreast on the law because doing so helps me to serve my clientele better.

To make recommendations, I employ my knowledge of the law and my understanding of the needs of the people sitting in front of me. Mediation is very personal, and as part of the process, I learn a lot about each spouse’s fears, hopes, and expectations. When I make recommendations, I look very carefully at your circumstances and craft recommendations that fit the unique needs of your family.

After I make a recommendation, the parties decide whether to follow it, revise it, or reject it. What is most relevant to the mediation process is that the recommendation acts as a catalyst for the parties to keep working on resolutions that they are willing to agree to and follow.

Tackling Other Issues

A third tool that I use to get past an impasse is to table an issue until later. In divorce, many legal issues must be resolved in order dissolve your marriage. We break these issues down into manageable chunks and approach each of them separately. This practice allows us to ensure that each issue is properly considered and resolved, and it also affords us with the chance to table an issue and return to it later. I believe it was the great motivational speaker and author Steve R. Covey who coined the phrase, “Small victories build confidence.” When we table one issue and move to one that we can resolve, it helps us to tackle more challenging issues. We have built up your confidence in your ability to compromise and in your belief that divorce mediation will work for you.

Are you ready to come to the table?

Mediation is not an all or nothing proposition. Hopefully, you resolve your entire divorce through mediation. However, if you cannot resolve every issue, there is still the possibility of resolving one or more issues, thereby reducing the time and expense of litigation. There is also the benefit of hearing each person so that you have a better understanding of what is actually at issue in your divorce. Learning this information at the mediation table is a lot less expensive and a lot easier to do than it will be when you are trying to obtain the information through two attorneys and a formal discovery process. Interest in learning more? I  recommend you schedule the first call. It is free, and I will give you my honest appraisal on whether your divorce seems amenable to the mediation process.


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