Why Questions are Crucial in Divorce Mediation
As both a family lawyer and a divorce mediator, Darren Shapiro understands the value of questions for his line of work. Often, he needs to ask questions of clients to learn more about the specifics of their cases. After all, many aspects of law are reliant on the answers that can be obtained to specific questions.
Committed to expanding both his knowledge and his network, Attorney Shapiro attends events and conferences where he can learn from his legal peers. At one he attended an event held at the New York State Council of Divorce Mediation, where he was able to catch a speaker session from Kenneth Cloke JD, Ph.D and LLM. Cloke's session on divorce mediation that covered the art of asking questions, a concept that is crucial in the divorce mediation process.
While questions can be important in any part of the legal process, they're often particularly important in the mediation environment, where it's crucial to get people talking so that they can discuss the outcomes that they need to pursue in their divorce. As Cloke pointed out during his session, the questions in divorce mediation can help mediators to uncover the deeper meaning behind arguments and other issues. Usually, for instance, a husband or wife complaining about dirty clothes left on the floor or dishes left in the sink connects to something deeper and more emotional.Uncovering Insight through Questions
Attorney Shapiro's training as a divorce mediator has given him plenty of opportunities to uncover the art of asking questions. He has discovered that the right questions are critical to push people to look at their issues from different angles and determine the hidden meaning within their words. Mediators like Mr. Shapiro are often capable of adding an additional dimension to the discussions that arise in divorce cases. They need to ask questions that are emotionally provocative.
For instance, to figure out the root cause of an issue, a mediator like Attorney Shapiro might ask a spouse why a problem was an issue for them, or what's going on beneath the surface to make them feel a certain way. A common question is "What are we not addressing here that we need to discuss?" Attorney Shapiro and other mediators frequently ask their clients what kind of things they're going to kick themselves for not saying later. This helps to get everything out on the table at the beginning of the discussion, and helps to drive towards more valuable, deeper discussions.
Though most people will automatically try to avoid emotional conversations - particularly in a stressful divorce experience, it's only in dealing with those emotions that the real issues can be addressed. Clients for instance might say that they don't want to give up a certain possession, like a collection of records - even if they don't listen to them. This seems petty on the surface, until you discover that the reason the client wants to keep those records is as a reminder of the good parts of the relationship.Solving Issues with Emotional Questions
Attorney Shapiro and mediators like him need to be able to ask the right questions at the right times, in order to put their clients in a place where problems can be solved. For instance, after training with Dr. Cloke, Attorney Shapiro may start a session for prenuptial agreement mediation by asking couples what they love about each other, what issues they might have in their relationship and what problems they've had to overcome before. Emotional questions with depth can draw out a more heart-to-heart conversation with clients.
Dr. Cloke suggested asking parties in a divorce what they might like to say if they knew they were having the last conversation they would ever half with the other party. Some of the other questions suggested include:
- What do you regret at the end of this relationship?
- What are your fondest memories of the relationship?
- What does spousal or child support mean to you?
- What issue are you most passionate about?
- What do you hope for the other party?
If a discussion begins to get out of hand for any reason, then it's important to try and break negative cycles, and questions can help with this too. For instance, if people are getting angry, Mr. Shapiro might ask: "Is this conversation helping you?" If the answer to the question is no, then Mr. Shapiro can continue by asking what the other person might do to make the conversation feel more productive.Getting the Most out of Conversations
For many people seeking divorce, mediation is a popular choice. Through questions that engage clients and get them to open up about deeper feelings, it can be a lot easier to come to resolutions to problems. However, it's not always necessary to go into deeper conversations. If the discussion is making progress, then it can be allowed to move naturally. However, questions can be the key to unlocking the discussion during sticking points.
If you want to find out more about divorce mediation with Attorney Shapiro, contact his office today and book your free initial consultation for up to thirty minutes. Mediating spouses will be asked to come to the session together. You can reach Mr. Shapiro’s office at (516) 333-6555 or utilize our contact form.