Mediation – Is It Right For You?

By Dr. Lynne C. Halem, Director of The Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, Wellesley, MA

Individuals considering divorce mediation frequently want to know whether or not they are appropriate mediation candidates.

  • My husband is self-employed.
  • My wife inherited money and property last year.
  • My husband is very secretive.
  • My wife keeps threatening to get even for the affair I had last year.
  • The well-being of our children is our primary concern.

Unfortunately, too many just dismiss mediation outright, self-branding themselves as inappropriate candidates without any consideration of the accuracy of their assessment. Then, too, there are the many who haven’t the vaguest idea that mediation may well be a valuable option for them.

Some couples who are obvious candidates:

  • Those who are concerned about the long-term welfare of their children and of their continued ability to co-parent cooperatively.
  • Those who are able to consider the implications and ramifications of different options on both parties.
  • Those who believe that their money is better spent on their family rather than being dissipated by lengthy and protracted legal negotiations and/or actions. This group includes:
    • Couples who may be less concerned about their relationship than about maintaining the integrity of their holdings. They believe that the marital estate should be preserved as much as possible, thereby calling for a more cost-efficient and expeditious route to divorce.
    • Couples who have significant estates, are self-employed, or hold stock in closely-held or family-owned businesses and/or have inherited or gifted holdings. Wealth is not a contra-indication for mediation. Indeed the wealthy often have the least difficulty with the mediation process.

Often, one of the parties is more willing to come to mediation than the other. This does not mean that the couple is inappropriate for mediation, only that the hesitant party may need the reassurance of a telephone conversation or an introductory meeting with an experienced mediator.

Couples owe it to themselves and to their families to at least investigate all of their options – mediation may prove to be one of the most valuable options available to them.

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