The Ground Rules and Techniques of Divorce Mediation Caucusing
There are many decisions that a couple will need to make when the two people involved decide that it's time to part ways. One is that they may need to ask themselves whether they want to start with a separation to test the waters of living apart before they move into a divorce. This is a question that might be answered within a mediation or whatever process they chose for their divorce. One of the first questions the two spouses will have to think about is the process that they want to use for their divorce. For some people, the only option will be litigation, whereas others will prefer the freedom offered by things like collaborative law and mediation. For those who do decide to take the divorce mediation route, there's also a decision to be made about whether caucusing should or shouldn't be allowed.
Caucusing in divorce mediation is what happens when each person in the case has the option to meet separately during private sessions with their mediator. In some cases, these meetings can give the individuals a chance to cool down and vent their frustrations when emotions are running high. Caucusing is also a great opportunity for a person to discuss or suggest options to a divorce mediator and see if something is possible before bringing it up with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, for some people, caucusing won't be appropriate - particularly when it leads to suspicion and discomfort.
Mr. Darren Shapiro offers his clients the chance to choose a divorce mediation experience that comes with or without caucusing depending on their needs. If a situation arises when caucusing might be an option, he discusses the options that the parties have with them during their joint mediation session. Once a decision has been made, he asks the couple to sign an agreement on the confidentiality of information. This helps to highlight what's going to happen with the information shared in caucusing sessions. For instance, does it need to stay private, or be shared into the joint environment?Establishing Trust and Confidentiality in Caucusing
Mr. Shapiro's role as a divorce mediator for residents of Long Island and New York is to help his clients feel as comfortable as possible during the divorce case. The people in a mediation session should feel comfortable discussing their issues, and this often means discussing things like confidentiality before mediation begins. As noted here, many mediators will ensure that the things said in caucus are kept confidential unless it is stated by the individual that it's okay to share that information.
The key to success is making sure that both parties trust their mediator. It's very easy for the party that isn't involved in a caucus session to feel suspicious about what is said behind the scenes. One way that Mr. Shapiro helps to keep both clients feeling comfortable is to provide them with an insight into what happens during caucus before a session begins. What's more, Mr. Shapiro also attempts to make sure that each client gets the same number of caucusing sessions.
Once a divorce mediation caucusing session begins, the mediator will usually begin by discussing the confidentiality agreement with the client, so that there's no confusion about what will happen with the information revealed in the session. A mediator like Mr. Shapiro may also ask open-ended questions to help push the conversation forward, such as "How do you feel about what's happening right now?" Divorce mediators like Mr. Shapiro use active listening techniques to clarify the statements being made, and they may also take some notes. Mediators can also test statements by asking questions how the party feels about the opponent's position in the mediation.Managing the Caucusing Sessions in Divorce Mediation
Usually, at the end of a caucusing session with a client, Mr. Shapiro will summarize what was discussed, and test out any potential suggestions to solutions for both of the party's problems. During this time, the person in the caucusing session will also be able to mention any concerns that they currently have with the negotiation, and the caucus can be closed with a reminder on the confidentiality agreement. It may be useful for a mediator like Mr. Shapiro to ask the client what they would like him to say to the other party when re-entering the negotiation too.
Most of the time, caucus sessions are conducted on-the-fly, where participants are separated from a joint session of divorce mediation to discuss their issues privately. During private caucus sessions, parties will usually have a chance to present their ideas and concerns with a mediator in a comfortable environment. During this time, mediators may even move between the two rooms to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each position with both clients and share ideas when the two individuals aren't ready to talk face-to-face. It's possible to bring the couple back into the same room again or continue negotiating while each party is in a separate room.
Often, the exact process used with caucusing sessions will differ slightly depending on the nature of the negotiation. When both parties are feeling emotional, it may be better for the mediator to separate those parties and move between them while the conversation takes place. Those private caucusing sessions between both parties in these circumstances will help to push the issue forward without forcing the two people to be together in the same room.
Mr. Shapiro can also offer his clients the option to take part in preliminary planning sessions, where a rapport is built between the client and their mediator before the negotiations of divorce mediation begin in earnest. If you want to learn more about preliminary planning sessions, caucusing sessions, or divorce mediation, you can contact Mr. Shapiro today on (516) 333-6555. Couples wishing to engage in divorce mediation will need to schedule a joint consultation with their spouse.