Divorcing Couples Should Not Fear Mediation


When traditional family law litigators began exploring the possibilities of mediation for family law, at first traditional attorneys resisted, not wanting to send their clients to negotiate without a lawyer present. The process has evolved, though. Attorneys and clients now embrace the opportunity to discuss in a more cordial environment.

Of course, many counterpoints to the benefits have emerged over the years as well. And the process is not for every client. Each case is different.

Some would argue, for example, mediation exposes your weaknesses to the other side. In reality, the state pretrial court rules provide for the exchange of exhibit lists, witnesses and actual exhibits including expert reports in advance of trial so there is no surprise anyway. Moreover, if one engages in any settlement discussions at all, and we would hope you would, it is inevitable you casually point out the weaknesses of the other side’s case, as they do yours. A good attorney should be constantly assessing the strengths and weaknesses of his or her case as it evolves. Too often, the attorney becomes enchanted with their client’s view of the case, and a heathy dose of reality is often a very good thing. 

Another argument against mediation is the client will be alone and defenseless in a room with just the mediator and the other spouse. However, many family mediators will now agree to conduct their mediation sessions with both attorneys present, which eliminates this concern.

Interestingly, often once a couple conducts a few mediation sessions with their attorneys, they actually ask their attorneys to step aside so they can work without their attorneys and with the mediator alone. 

The Role of Neuroscience

Mediators, including those here in southwestern Pennsylvania, have become much more educated and experienced over the years about the process. Neuroscience has evolved and taught us so much we did not know previously about how people react, think and communicate especially in times of stress. Conflict resolution has risen to a science in and of itself. The art of bringing parties to resolution has therefore evolved dramatically with newer techniques and much more knowledge than ever before.   

Why is this so important? If a family can transition through the bitterly painful process of separating without the added trauma and expenses of litigation, it is better for everyone involved, especially the children.  

Why not take a shot at resolving your case through mediation before your court circus begins? You just may save yourself a lot of money in legal fees, time, and if you reach a settlement, you most likely will remain on speaking terms with your spouse in the end as the process is usually less emotionally taxing on the relationship. It may not be quite as trendy as “uncoupling” but it is still a modern (and humane) choice.

Read more about mediation and other alternative dispute resolution topics on our law firm’s blog. For questions regarding the use of mediators to resolve your domestic issues or to hire a mediator, contact the attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC who will be able to assist you. We have trained mediators on staff and our attorneys have experience working with mediators to resolve cases.

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