Five years ago I went into mediation totally in control of the facts and the issues at hand. The issues were somewhat complicated but the lawyer’s and mediators involved were trained professionals. Within a three hour period we had the issues resolved and were proud to have an agreement that provided flexibility and (what we believed) a way to resolve future disputes. Every single person in that room had an expertise in mediating disputes on behalf of their client.
We thought we had resolved future disputes between the parties concerning their issues. We thought wrong. Two minutes (it may have been one) after the parties signed the mediation agreement, I heard loud yelling and screaming. The parties simply had found SOMETHING ELSE to fight about. We shrugged our shoulders and left, some of us even chuckling – well that’s family law. Does this sound familiar? I’m certain that it does.
Five years later that mediation still bothers me. These client’s needed lawyers, absolutely, but honestly they needed a therapist too. It is amazing to me though that we can not come up with a stated structure to incorporate therapists into assisting the lawyers/courts to help resolve future conflict.
The focus always should be to help parent’s resolve future conflict. Mediation alone will not accomplish this where the parent’s lacked the ability to communicate (extremely young – or hardly knew each other before the child was born). Mediation is not going to undo hurt feelings, bitterness or anger. The lack of communication skills are issues best presented and handled by psychologists and therapists.
Mediation’s normally take place in separate rooms and the individual’s talking are the mediator’s and the attorneys. If you think about it, how would mediation’s ever create communication skills? What do you expect these parent’s will do when they find something else to fight about? What do you expect these parent’s to do when they ran out of money paying lawyers and mediators? What effect do you think unresolved conflict have on kids n divorce?
Conversely, the obvious benefit of mediation is it facilitates the end of issues that are presently confronting the parents. Mediation ends conflict when and all possible. Mediation is a necessary component to resolving parent conflict, but it is not the holy grilled cheese sandwich that resolves the problems these parent’s have now and in the future.