By John Goodwin of John G. Goodwin, Family Mediator/Collaborative Family Lawyer/Family Lawyer posted in Family Mediation on Monday, November 20, 2017.
Many people think that “Success” in mediation means a completed and signed separation agreement.
That is certainly one way to look at it but it misses a lot of other ways we can succeed in mediation:
1. Mediation can help the parties establish new respectful and effective ways to communicate about their family.
2. Mediation often helps to re-establish trust in the other party that was eroded over the years and maybe especially around and after the separation.
3. Looking at it another way – the relationship of the parties is not made worse by the process – unlike adversarial processes.
4. Spouses can be relieved of power imbalances that may have arisen over time due to control over finances or financial information.
5. A mediated settlement can spare the parties’ children some of the acrimony that existed between their parents before separation.
6. The children may have the comfort of knowing that their parents chose a respectful way to resolve their differences – a silver lining in the cloud – and good role modelling for the children.
7. The parties will be relieved of the ongoing legal, mediation and other fees that are a part of the separation process.
8. They can proceed to make plans to buy a house, to travel, to save for retirement, to plan a life with a new partner etc.
9. Because the process is respectful, it is easier to imagine re-connecting with in-laws following the separation/divorce.
10. Mediation focusses not only on legal rights – it focusses on all things that matter to the parties so that the result is best suited to the individual needs/goals/values of the parties and not restricted by the process as with a court proceeding.
11. Outcomes that are arrived at by a respectful process like mediation have a much greater chance of being complied with.
Even if mediation does not end in a completed and signed agreement, there are benefits (successes):
12. Often a lot of financial disclosure has been completed that would have been required anyway in any other process.
13. Interim arrangements can be agreed to so that important practical issues are dealt with while the case proceeds to a conclusion by trial or settlement.
14. These interim agreements/arrangements and financial disclosure that are completed are done efficiently and cost effectively.
And so success in mediation is not limited to the achievement of a signed agreement – it has many aspects that can help families move forward in a positive way with a separation and a new chapter in their lives.