Mediation is not easy….however, joint session mediation opens doors and builds cooperation! Couples cannot change the past but joint session mediation is an opportunity to have a better future.
Joint sessions advance self-determination and empowerment because couples actively participate and make decisions…..they have control of the outcome. Durable agreements are likely because the participants make decisions thoughtfully; if concessions are made, they chose to make them and understand why.
In contrast, shuttle mediation reinforces differences by actually “separating” the couple into two rooms; it keeps the wall between them…..literally! Couples stay stuck in positions, each side is worn down, and decisions are made under pressure, not for a better future, but to simply stay out of court; usually both spouses feel like they “lost”. The “agreements” are not embraced and frequently are not even understood. The result is usually increased acrimony that haunts them in the future!
Yes, mediating in the same room can be uncomfortable, even stressful. But it is far less stressful than preparing for litigation and spending hours on end in shuttle mediation where you are never really even heard!
Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class actions. She has settled and mediated thousands of cases. In addition to civil litigation mediation, she also co-mediates divorces with John Duda, a marriage and family therapist.
Debra Synovec, a Seattle-based mediator and lawyer, has mediated divorces for 20 years. She believes in empowering the parties to reach their own resolution.