Teaching someone how to fish is obviously better than just providing someone a fish. In mediation the professionals sit down and the mediator helps us brain storm on how we can problem solve the parents problems. The collaborative process is different, more involved. It is a process that actually provides skills to help parents minimize conflict.
Can we all agree that mediation, in and of itself, does not educate parents on how to minimize future conflict?
My favorite story involving a mediation was one in which the attorneys and mediators were engaged in how to solve the parents problems. Three hours into the mediation and the professionals in the room had come up with an intricate plan that would resolve the issues that were causing the parents conflict.
Ah, but not so fast. The parents signed off on the mediated settlement agreement and immediately began finding NEW WAYS to fight with one another. The parents in fact needed to be separated from one another and the session was concluded. The professionals did everything right, a mediated settlement agreement was reached, BUT we had failed the parents who did not find a way out of their conflict.
A team based approach, a collaborative approach between attorneys and mental health professionals must be used to help parents learn how to resolve their own conflict. Even parents with poor communication skills would know to go back to the mental health professional to look for solutions to their problem and not look for ways to look to conflict as a way to resolve their problem.
Collaborative techniques need to be used to help parents learn how to engage each other post divorce. The collaborative attorneys and their team members get this concept. It’s time for the mediators and civil litigators to start seeing the benefits as well.