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Challenging The Myths Surrounding Divorce Mediation

by Dr. Lynne C. Halem
May 2016  Dr. Lynne C. Halem

Myth: Divorce Mediation Only Works When Spouses Can Communicate Well

Fact: If that were true, CMDR would be out of business. It is the mediator’s job to facilitate communication between spouses. A skilled mediator can draw out the less communicative party and help him or her vocalize ideas. The mediator is the catalyst in bringing about negotiation, compromise and agreement. However, it is the couple that decides what is fair and emerges as better communicators as a result of the mediation process.


Myth: The Divorce Process Moves Faster with Attorneys

Fact: The logistics of one spouse meeting with his attorney, and then waiting for the other spouse to meet with her attorney to review a proposal and come back with any changes are overwhelming and time consuming at best. Compare this situation with both spouses sitting down together with a mediator, problem solving, negotiating and leaving a mediation session with something accomplished. In general, mediation is a faster, more efficient process than litigation.


Myth: Using Divorce Attorneys is Less Expensive than Using A Divorce Mediator

Fact: Combined attorneys' fees can deplete a family's finances even before discovery, delays, trials, and countless phone conversations between attorneys. Mediation is a process that employs one primary facilitator. Even with consulting attorneys and a detailed agreement, the savings in time and money are substantial.


Myth: The Mediator Decides What is Fair for Both Spouses

Fact: Unlike an arbitrator, it is not the function of the mediator to make decisions for the divorcing spouses. The mediator's role is to help couples negotiate an agreement that each of them considers fair. At CMDR, mediators also help couples to explore various options in order to weigh the different benefits and disadvantages.


Myth: Mediation Favors Men Over Women

Fact: It is the mediator’s responsibility to make sure that women and men have the knowledge and the know-how to make intelligent choices and that both parties understand their options and opportunities. Each participant needs to structure an agreement, built on knowledge and understanding, which provides the supports necessary for each one to build a new future.


Myth: Attorneys Have No Place in Mediation

Fact: Participation in mediation does not mean that the couple gives up rights to legal counsel. To the contrary, couples frequently use attorneys to review their agreement and guide them through the filing and hearing processes.


Myth: Attorneys Ensure That All the Details of Your Divorce Remain Confidential

Fact: All the filed declarations, where you and your spouse make accusations against each other to gain advantage, are public records available to anyone to view, even years later by your children and grandchildren. Mediation is a confidential process where decisions are made in a private conference room. There are no filed declarations making accusations against each other. You maintain your good reputation.

 

Biography


Dr. Lynne C. Halem is the director at the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution in Wellesley, MA. Dr. Halem has worked in the mediation field since 1982. She is on the Family Dispute Service Panel of the American Arbitration Association and a past board member of the Divorce Center, Inc. Dr. Halem served two terms as President of the Massachusetts Council of Family Mediation. She has been featured in Boston Globe and Boston Herald articles on divorce mediation and has appeared on television and radio programs as an expert in the field of mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Dr. Halem is a recognized specialist in family policy and family law with a masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate from Harvard University. She is the author of two scholarly books on divorce: Divorce Reform: Changing Legal and Social Perspectives (Free Press of Macmillan, 1980), a featured selection of the Lawyers' Literary Club, and Separated and Divorced Women (Greenwood Press, 1982), a Choice book of the year selection for academic excellence. She has served as a consultant to corporations in the public and private sectors and taught at various colleges and universities.



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