Sara Bensman is a mediator, parenting coordinator, and child custody mediator in Asheville, North Carolina. Last month, she published a post on her blog about the value of mediation. Her accompanying graphic representation compared the costs of outcomes, financial and otherwise, as between litigation and mediation and is reprinted below:
Giuseppe Leone of the Virtual Mediation Laboratory in Hawaii continues to lead the pack in testing and demonstrating innovative means to give people around the world access to the mediators they want to work with. Initially, he and volunteer mediators have been showing how online video technology allows parties and mediators to talk and see each other with an Internet connection. Now he is exploring mobile technology to the same end for those with PCs, Macs, or smartphones. Here’s a 19-minute YouTube video showing how it’s done:
- Not all mediators work in the way demonstrated in the video. The outcome here is essentially similar to what could be achieved in litigation but with greater efficiency and less cost. Apart from those benefits, nothing essential has changed for the parties in terms of dealing with the effects of conflict on how they see themselves or others. Relational mediation addresses these effects directly. For example, rather than relying on the mediator to gather information and clarify issues, the empowerment of the parties is supported to whatever ends the parties themselves decide is important to them. When parties control the process and take ownership of it, personal strength is enhanced rather than diminished by having a third person direct the resolution process. And individual strength and responsibility may lead to greater openness to the other which in turn may facilitate a constructive outcome, if that’s what the parties want
- With mobile technology, parties and mediators can be connected irrespective of what devices and operating systems are being used, whether PCs and Windows, Macs and OS X, iPhones and iOS, or smartphones and Android systems.
- In the same way, that phone numbers no longer are associated with locations but rather with people wherever they find themselves, face-to-face mediation no longer is yoked to meeting in a room, but can be held through the virtual presence obtained by these new forms of connection.
These are exciting new developments that mediators can now offer to clients.
- Honolulu’s Giuseppe Leone launching Mobile Mediation (bizjournals.com)
In the post yesterday featuring the UK Ministry of Justice’s recently released video on family mediation, a distinction was drawn between couples counselling and family mediation (i.e., divorce or separation mediation).
Patti Murphy, a family mediator based in Brooklyn poses the questions:
But what if the couple didn’t want an archaeological exploration of past family behavior or accept that the issues between them were so insurmountable that the only answer was to walk away? Then what?
The good news is – there is another option: Couples Mediation. It’s really more of a new application than a new process. Mediators have been helping couples resolve conflicts for years … but it turns out these same skills can be used to avoid, rather than ease, divorce! This process, (also called “Marital Mediation” for officially married couples) is helpful for those couples that want to stay together.
In my own view, unlike therapy, it’s not about fixing or curing people, but rather it’s about supporting conversations that can bring both people greater clarity on their situation, on the options they have, and on what to do to move forward.
I have a few glosses² to add to this:
- Contrary to the video, I prefer the objective of mediation to be stated as a process in which people can explore, with the support of a trained, impartial third person, the possibilities for resolving their differences. In other words, the objective of the process is whatever the clients say it is, rather than implicitly ‘agreeing arrangements for the future’;
- In the Canadian and Ontario contexts, background information and resources can be found at the websites of the federal Department of Justice and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General; and
- Among other websites in Canada that can help with finding a mediator near you are the Ontario Association for Family Mediation and its Ottawa chapter.
Florida attorney and family mediator, Diane Danois, recently set out a number of myths and misunderstandings that may affect decision making when separating and divorcing:
#1 Myth: Using a mediator precludes me from consulting with a lawyer.
#2 Myth: The first step is filing and “serving” my spouse.
#3 Myth: I have to resolve all of our issues in mediation.
#4 Myth: I have to be in the same room as my spouse.
#5 Myth: I won’t be able to consult with experts (accountants, realtors, etc.) to help me make final decisions. I will be all alone in my decision-making, and won’t get what I deserve.
#6 Myth: I will be getting legal advice from a mediator, instead of a lawyer.
None of these statements is correct in Florida (or in Ontario for that matter) as Danois explains in her recent article on The Huffington Post.