Mediation Behind Closed Doors – Part II: What does a typical mediation session look like?

So, let’s walk into a session and act as a fly on the wall. Actually, just this morning I had a couple come in for a consultation, and there was a fly who wouldn’t leave the room… so let’s pretend we are that fly.

If we are walking into a first session, it will look something like this;

Mediator: Hi, how are you both today? I am sure you are very anxious, and hopefully, I can decrease some of that today.

Clients: Yes, we are anxious and overwhelmed.

Mediator: Understandable. This is an overwhelming journey you are about to embark on, and I am here to help unclutter the path and present you both with quality information that you can use in making these very important decisions in your life. Let’s begin by each of you taking a few minutes to tell me about your family, your day-to-day schedules, your children, their activities, family traditions, etc. Who would like to start?

Client 1: I will start. We both work full time and our children, Anna, 3 and Elsa, 8, are in school and /or daycare while we are at work. Typically, I take them to school in the morning, and my husband picks them up after school. He goes into the office earlier than I do, and I tend to stay at the office later than he does. We have been utilizing this schedule pretty much since Elsa was born. We are both interested in coming up with a way to continue this way and provide consistency to the girls, but we are unsure how to do that. Elsa is in girl scouts and sometimes takes dance lessons or gymnastics. Anna does not have any activities yet.

Mediator: Thank you for that. It sounds like you have a nice routine that everyone in the family is accustomed to. We will certainly try to cause the least amount of disruption as possible to that routine, so long as we can all keep an open mind and get creative with our ideas, we can hopefully figure something out. Would you (Client 2) like to add to this?

Client 2: Yes, sure. Everything my wife said is accurate. We have been on this schedule for a long time, about six years now. It does work, but it works because we are in the same home. I am not sure how it will work if we are in different homes. I also anticipate needing to change things as the kids grow up and do engage in more activities. So I would like to discuss how to handle changes in the future as well as how to handle our current circumstances.

Mediator: Those are very valid concerns. As kids get older, they often do get involved in more after school activities which can take a lot of time and a lot of flexibility on the parent’s part. How to handle these changes, as they arise, is something we will discuss and come up with some ideas on how to handle the situation. While we cannot plan for everything, we do try to plan for the things we expect to happen. Do either of you anticipate any changes in either of your work schedules in the near future?

I could go on and on, but this is a blog and not a book… I hope it gives you a sneak peek into the situation and reflects that much of the process is just a conversation between adults. There is nothing to fear in mediation if both parties come in with an open mind and a desire to minimize animosity. Once armed with the proper information provided by your mediator, we are confident that each and every person who wants to dissolve their marriage through an amicable process, such as mediation, will be successful at doing so.

Read Part I: The Mystery of Mediation

Read Part III: How Is Your Process Structured Differently?

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by: Jennifer Segura

Jennifer Segura with west coast family mediation center
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