Divorce Mediation in High-Conflict Relationships
Mr. Darren Shapiro, following years of experience within the highly emotional and fast-paced world of divorce and family law litigation, decided to engage in professional mediation training, as a way of offering alternate sources of conflict resolution to parties in the midst of a divorce, child custody battles, and more. Through various successful cases, Mr. Shapiro has witnessed the benefits of mediation in law for himself, as it presents a cost-effective, timely, and often amicable route to pursuing the best interests of each party. However, many people still believe that when a high-conflict partner is involved, mediation can no longer be considered as an effective route. In cases of high-conflict divorce, couples automatically assume that their only option is litigation - a lengthy procedure of divorce that can be both financially, and emotionally draining. However, Mr. Shapiro believes that this is not always the case, as he has helped numerous couples from different circumstances discover solutions to high-conflict relationship problems. While mediation is often simpler when used by a couple with a pre-existing sense of healthy communication, this doesn't necessarily mean that high-conflict divorce mediation should be disregarded.
While there are circumstances in which the process of mediation will not be possible - in most circumstances, Mr. Darren Shapiro has discovered that it is possible to achieve a more lucrative outcome when a co-operative process, rather than a combative one, is considered. This means that he often recommends his clients consider all of the avenues available before assuming that a "high-conflict" divorce is restricted to litigation. After all, since most routes of divorce will lead to arguments between ex-spouses, mediation at least allows time to resolve those arguments before money and energy are spent on aggressive litigation processes. In the belief of Mr. Shapiro, the process of mediation can still be tailored to high-conflict cases of divorce in certain circumstances. The important factor is how each spouse approaches the process, and what structure of mediation they use to allow for negative emotions to be vented. Following are four circumstances in which Mr. Shapiro believes that high-conflict divorces may be managed through mediation.
First, while it's safe to say that a high-conflict couple in mediation may be dealing with a very difficult relationship dynamic, Mr. Shapiro often works to adjust the mediation process and provide a supportive and structured collection of sessions. Using a high level of experience in dealing with divorces from various backgrounds, Darren Shapiro structures the process using solutions such as individual time given to each party before and after sessions, and the management of specific agenda topics. Of course, individual time will only be offered if both sides are agreeable to that solution, and each has an equal opportunity to use that individual time. What's more, Mr. Shapiro finds it's beneficial to stress his neutrality to the couple - as one to one sessions are designed to offer a safe space, when one is needed, not to be used for coming up with strategies against either spouse.
Secondly, a mediation session should never be used as a place to vent issues about a failed marriage. In most circumstances, venting frustrations and disagreements up until this point will not have helped a couple with a high-conflict relationship to see eye to eye. This means that blowing off steam during sessions intended to create solutions for the future is not going to turn around the right results. To avoid venting, Mr. Shapiro often encourages couples to speak with their own review attorneys or therapists. Review attorneys are always a recommended aspect in divorce mediation.
Third, in high-conflict cases, Mr. Shapiro recommends that clients do not attempt to discuss their issues beyond the sessions. Each client should minimize communication outside of the process as much as possible, as this can lead to further conflict. While Mr. Shapiro often recommends that agreeable couples speak outside of mediation to minimize the time needed with a mediator, this is not the case in high-conflict cases, where arguments can escalate and ruin delicately achieved agreements. Mr. Shapiro also recommends that each party speaks to him in the session, rather than addressing the other spouse. By allowing each person equal chance to speak, Mr. Shapiro sets ground rules to navigate the issues that must be discussed.
Finally, utilizing neutral professionals such as a child specialist (psychological professional), of financial neutral can help navigate through issues. Meeting with trained divorce coaches before the mediation process can prepare parties for the procedure, giving them time to assess their future and recuperate - rather than focusing on the negative emotions that come from a failed relationship. Neutral child specialists, financial neutrals and divorce coaches make up a regular aspect of collaborative law, so if the suggestion sounds attractive, it may indicate that collaborative law is the right process for your divorce. However, neutrals, specialists and coaches can be used in mediation too. People with a need to negotiate with high-conflict partners frequently find it helpful to understand the mediation process, and prepare for difficult topic discussion. Pre-mediation coaching can also assist individuals in finding solutions when reacting to "triggers" that might cause problems in the mediation process, while giving them the skills to better manage their emotions.
In any divorce, it's important for each party to remain focused on pursuing the best interests available for their children and themselves. Mediation helps to work out solutions tailored to the specific needs of each person, and it can deliver an important solution when each party attempts to make positive changes to their future. In mediation, clients have the chance to manage their own divorce without lawyers speaking on their behalf, meaning that problems can sometimes be solved with reduced stress, and at a lower cost.
Mr. Shapiro has found that it can help to identify and manage issues in dispute, reducing the harmful impact of prolonged discomfort through litigation. However, it's still safe to say that mediation isn't successful for everyone. Some higher-conflict disputes will require a judge to offer a solution.
If you would like to consider the mediation process further, please reach out to Mr. Darren M. Shapiro's law and mediation office to discuss the details of your case. You can get in touch either via our online form, or by telephone at 516-333-655.