Reasons to Consider Caucusing in Divorce Mediation

Reasons to Consider Caucusing in Divorce MediationIf you're thinking of using divorce mediation to come to terms on your divorce with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, then it's worth noting that there are many kinds of mediation to choose from. For instance, some people may decide that they want to start their divorce mediation sessions with preliminary planning sessions where they can build a rapport with their divorce mediator. Other couples might decide that they want to dive straight into meditation without any planning at all. There's even the option for "caucusing" during mediation in some cases.

Caucus in meditation was a strategy originally intended to give parties in the divorce mediation process time to move out of their joint sessions and discuss concepts with a mediator on their own. These separate sessions don't necessarily give the parties an unfair advantage or additional support. Instead, these sessions allow for issues to be clarified in a different environment. Mr. Shapiro, a divorce mediator in New York and Long Island, can offer caucusing as part of his mediation sessions for clients. Often, people will choose this strategy when:

  • Parties need space to explore their options
  • Options suggested in front of another party might seem like a premature commitment
  • Parties need privacy to consider their options
  • Parties want to keep certain information confidential
  • Mediators need to clarify or explore specific statements made by one party
Considering Caucus in Divorce Mediation

Caucuses in meditation sessions are meetings held separately between an individual party and their divorce mediator during the mediation negotiation. Caucusing won't be the right option for every divorce case. There are times when parties might be suspicious that the other party in caucus is getting additional help, and this affects the success of the mediation overall. Because of this, Mr. Shapiro will usually only offer caucusing as an option if both parties sign on to the idea.

Of course, there are times when caucusing can be very beneficial. For instance, if the relationship between the two divorcing parties is tense, a caucus will give them a chance to vent their emotions in a private setting, without upsetting the other party. This can sometimes allow for the mediation to move more smoothly, without the risk of additional arguments. In some cases, caucus can also be used to help a meditator clarify things with a client, or vice versa. A party may even use a caucus session to find out whether a potential outcome for a divorce mediation is possible or not, before they suggest the idea in the main negotiation. Used correctly, a caucus in divorce mediation can create:

  • Stronger and more open communication between the mediator and party
  • Better understandings between the party and the mediator in question
  • Better management of emotion for the parties involved
  • Greater comfort for the party when discussing underlying interests, assumptions and information.
  • Intimate discussions between the mediator and party that make all parties feel more comfortable
Using Caucus for Divorce Mediation

In most cases, Mr. Shapiro has avoided divorce mediation by caucus, as he often found that parties can feel uncomfortable with the idea of a mediator and their spouse meeting in private. However, he's also open to all manner of techniques in the divorce and mediation environment. Mr. Shapiro recognizes the value that caucus sessions can bring to a mediation when it's used correctly. For instance, mediation can provide parties in a divorce case with the opportunity to work out agreements that might be suitable to suggest to the other party.

When Mr. Shapiro meets with clients considering meditation, he will always ask for all parties to meet with him at the same time, so the couple can decide together whether they want to allow caucusing to take place. During this meeting, Mr Shapiro and his clients can also discuss what kind of rules will be in place for the caucus meetings if they choose this option. Will the information in the meeting be shared with the other side or not, and so on? Often, it's best to agree on this ahead of time to avoid issues in the long-term. Absent an agreement on crucial issues, Mr. Shapiro would avoid engaging in caucus sessions because they could lead to the mediation breaking down.

Crucially, in some cases, parties may use their caucus sessions not to discuss anything, but to simply calm down and get rid of excess tensions when meditation becomes challenging. When emotions are running rampant during mediation, a caucus can allow the parties involved some space to vent, or simply get some space before carrying on with the negotiation. As this article notes, caucus can be particularly beneficial at times when the intervention of a mediator would cause one of the parties to feel embarrassed or uncertain in front of the other party. Other reasons to consider caucus include:

  • Sharing private information outside of the joint meeting
  • Developing an alternative proposal
  • Testing how realistic certain proposals are
  • Exploring alternatives to proposed settlements
  • Discussing "what if" scenarios

If you're thinking of using divorce mediation to handle the issues you have with your partner, and you believe that caucus may be a good idea for you, contact the office of Mr. Darren M. Shapiro today to find out more on (516) 333-6555.

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