Monday, April 21, 2008

The Motivation to Mediate (or Collaborate)

Are you sure that you want to mediate or engage in the collaborative process? Is this a process that makes sense for you and your partner? If so, why?

People come to mediation for many different reasons. Some want to keep things private, and avoid as much of a public record of their divorce as possible.

Others want a chance to tell their whole story, which they know they would not get to do in court or in a process of legal negotiations. To them, it is most important to be heard.

To some, keeping control of the decision-making is important. They don’t want outsiders (judges or lawyers) imposing judgments or determinations on them. They feel that they know themselves, their children and their situation best, and are therefore in the best place to make decisions.

Some people see the adversary system as just making things worse between the parties. They want to protect themselves and their children from the inherent tensions in separating, and want to minimize the hostility between them.

Others simply want to save money, and see both mediation and the collaborative process as an efficient way to keep costs down. Or they think they could get a better deal if they avoided going to court.

What makes you want to give this a try? What do you think appeals to your partner/ex? Whatever the reason, it is best to be up front about it – with yourself, with the other person, with the mediator. That gives you something to judge the process against as you go along. Is this helping you achieve that goal?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Four Divorces

It has been said that people go through several different divorces – emotional, social, physical and legal. The couple that was once connected in a million different ways now has to learn how to untangle.

The first three apply whether the couple was legally married or not.
Even though divorce only applies to people who are legally married, there may be legal issues that arise when unmarried couples split up, as well.

Emotional divorce occurs when the couple is no longer working as a team, when they no longer work together as a unit. There may be domestic strife or not, but it is an act of distancing from each other.

Social divorce
can be summed up, as one friend put it, as “who gets custody of the friends?”
Your family, friends, and other close people may take sides, or encourage one partner or another to take certain steps.

The physical divorce is perhaps the most obvious – when the couple (or one partner) physically moves out from the shared living space.

The legal divorce is the court’s dissolution of the marriage contract. It is, in effect, another contract, assigning rights and responsibilities to each partner. For couples who were married, this is the actual divorce order. For unmarried couples, this may result in a custody and visitation order, a child support order, or a civil court order regarding the division of property.

All of these processes can take months or even years. Breakups never happen overnight. Often one partner is moving faster than another – it may even take the second partner by surprise. This may cause extra friction in the relationship, but understanding these different facets of separation can help.