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Mediation: Two Views

This month I worked with two very different couples in two very different mediations, and it occurred to me that if you are in the divorce process, you know nothing of other clients’ experiences, which might be helpful in making a decision about mediation.

Here’s the back story:  Couple A (let’s call them Anne and Arturo) and Couple B (Ben and Barb) have more than a few things in common.  They are all working professionals, but at different levels of pay.  Both couples have one young child (Abby and Boris).  They both have moderate debt and assets.  They are all smart and capable, and they all want a divorce that preserves their sanity, resources, and relationship as co-parents of their children.  And both couples chose mediation as the vehicle for settling their divorce.

Anne and Arturo have a very communicative relationship, even now, in the midst of divorce.  They share equal time with Abby and talk about her to each other all the time.  Anne tends to be more outgoing and decisive, while Arturo is more quiet and contemplative.  They have been working through their issues in mediation two hours at a time for several months.  We are almost at resolution, with only a few details left to hammer out, and Anne and Arturo both needed this time to fully process and absorb the agreements they were making.  They have thoroughly reviewed their settlement documents at least three times, and are giving them a final review before signing.  Anne and Arturo have repeatedly told me how much they appreciate the fact that we never rush or pressure them to agree to anything they don’t understand or fully embrace.  They most value the fact that they are completing mediation on their own schedule.

Ben and Barb do not communicate at all other than to exchange their young son, Boris.  Ben is assertive and no-nonsense, while Barb is soft-spoken and emotional.  Ben and Barb have lived apart for several months and both realized that it was time to complete their divorce, but they were stuck on how to move past their financial and parenting disputes.  Ben and Barb both needed to “be done” as quickly as possible because the stress of the looming divorce was causing their strained communications to become all-out fights.  Ben and Barb just wanted to put their heads down and plow through the issues.  Which we did, in one day.  Beginning early and ending late, we managed to resolve every issue on the table including signing off on all of their agreements.  Ben and Barb have repeatedly told me how much they appreciate the fact that we set aside an entire day to work only on their issues and that we were prepared with written documents as soon as they reached agreement.  They most value the fact that they completed mediation on their own schedule.

Both the A’s and the B’s paid flat fees for their mediation — the same flat fee. 

For Anne and Arturo, the flat fee works because they want to take their time without being “nickel and dimed” throughout the process. 

For Ben and Barb, the flat fee works because they wanted to come in, resolve their disputes, sign their documents and leave without ever having to pay another bill. 

For both couples, the flat fee and mediation process provided a value beyond the basic services provided — it gave them some control and input to the outcome that they would not otherwise have.  If you are litigating your divorce, you will not get months of time with your judge to hammer out the best wording for your parenting plan.  If you are litigating your divorce, you will not get the judge to set aside a day just for you AND provide you with a decree at the end of the day.  And if you are litigating your divorce, you will NOT be getting a flat fee for all of the services provided (far from it)! 

If you’re thinking about mediation, consider that you can choose the long road or the short road and, in either case, you will pay one all-inclusive, very reasonable fee for the entire process.  

Choose Peace ~ it’s a custom fit!

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