Mediation is a voluntary process of negotiation, in which the facilitator is neutral—he or she is there to facilitate the process and lend support to the parties, but he or she holds no decision-making power. Rather, mediation reinforces and, yes, insists on, the competence and authority of the parties to negotiate and to reach their own decisions about their dispute.
Mediation works a paradigm shift, helping each family member deal with the other as a person facing a shared set of problems. Mediated negotiations are centered around discussions of understanding each person’s needs and interests and generating detailed solutions that make sense to this particular family, given who they have been and the rules and understandings by which they wish to conduct their lives.
The mediator establishes a safe, supportive and confidential forum for direct discussion—even in high-conflict situations. Trained to facilitate a dialogue between spouses and partners, as well as other family members, the mediator helps you crystallize the elements of your conflict and develop a shared understanding of each of your needs and concerns.
While the mediator helps you articulate your needs and concerns, you must be able to advocate for yourself if the process is to work. You are encouraged to consult with other experts, including attorneys, accountants, financial advisers and therapists as needed, before, during, and after the mediation, and you may bring them into the mediation room if you feel that you need assistance to present your perspectives effectively. The majority of people derive tremendous benefits and advantages from mediating a separation or divorce, issues of custody and visitation and property distribution as well as a wide array of other family disputes.
This process, as compared with litigation, enables people to reach resolution in a time-frame of weeks or months rather than in years, and with a cost measured in a few thousand rather than tens of thousands of dollars. The emotional savings of proceeding in a forum that doesn’t demonize and dehumanize the other person is, quite simply, incalculable.