Thanks to the WSJ

 Thanks to the WSJ by Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{3:36 minutes to read} Divorce mediators generally don’t go in for billboards and loud media advertising – it is a quiet profession in this regard, so it’s good news when a national publication puts a spotlight on divorce mediation. Sometimes, however, things go a little bit awry.

Such was the case in The Wall Street Journal’s March 7 – 8, 2015’s weekend edition. Under the banner, “Five Ways to Get a Better Deal in Mediation,” it correctly noted,

“Divorcing spouses often turn to mediation as a way to resolve their differences. Hiring a mediator can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees…” 

So far so good.

But just below this is a highlighted excerpt:

“Mediators don’t assign blame-they try to strike a deal that the parties can live with.”

To this I can only quote a line uttered daily by teenagers everywhere: This is so not true – at least in my practice.

In divorce mediation (which differs in significant respects from business or commercial mediation) mediators do not strike “deals” with the participants or vice versa. The participants strike deals or agreements with one another – through a process conducted or facilitated by the mediator. “Deal” is almost too commercial a word to use here because many of these agreements address parenting concerns and are really driven by mutual parental understanding of the family’s emotional welfare. Although they will be divorced, their status as parents will remain unchanged.

Above all, the point of divorce mediation is to honor the informed decisions of the divorcing couple.  They are deemed the best judge of what is fair and appropriate in their unique circumstances.  New York law honors these voluntary resolutions.

The mediator is no mere bystander, however. As facilitator, it is emphatically not the mediator’s role to:

  • Suggest specific settlements

  • Express opinions about the positions of the parties

  • Steer one or the other towards a particular agreement

The mediator promotes full, reciprocal disclosure of the parties’ financial circumstances and helps participants to understand key attributes of their debts and assets, and general financial circumstances.

The mediator focuses on:

  • Keeping the conversation going

  • Making certain both parties are heard

  • Making sure they are active participants in the resolution process

  • Making sure all appropriate subjects are addressed

Issues requiring specialized advice routinely present themselves in the course of mediation. While the mediator’s role excludes giving advice on such legal, tax and therapeutic issues, couples are encouraged to consult with their own specialists (their accountants, for example). Where necessary, the mediator will connect participants with those who may provide the needed consultation and advice in other subject areas.

Like many divorce mediators, I provide a fuller discussion of the mediator’s role (and the couple’s role) in mediation. I invite you to call me at 646-340-3434 if you are interested.

And thanks to the Wall Street Journal for this inspiration!

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
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