Making Divorce Mediation More Effective

Posted by Erin Birt | Feb 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Many people believe that a divorce mediator will resolve the issues that are stalling their Illinois divorce process. However, successful divorce mediation results from the commitment and involvement of the parties involved in the divorce, not the mediator alone.  A recent article by Sandra Crawford in the Illinois State Bar Association Newsletter entitled Mediation, meditation—Let's pause for more peaceful outcomes approaches mediation from a different perspective. Crawford discusses how meditation practices–specifically what she calls “the power of the pause”–can help parties reach the agreements they seek in the mediation process. This post focuses on how a pause is Making Divorce Mediation More Effective.

Making Divorce Mediation More Effective: THE PAUSE TECHNIQUE

Crawford describes how the pause technique can help parties to better address issues in a mediation setting, stating:

“Far too often in the litigation process (be it pre-trial conferences, depositions, hearings) there is little room left for ‘the pause.' When a lull in conversation comes in that venue it is typically instantly filled in by an opponent without acknowledging what the other person has just said. Even sometimes in court hearings the lawyers and judges are talking over one another and not pausing sufficiently to allow for adequate listening or reflection back so that deeper understandings might flourish.”

She goes on to remind us that it's actually the parties involved in the mediation, not the mediator, who are responsible for the ultimate outcomes. The mediator's job is to give those parties the time and space needed to work through the problems and get to resolution.

A good mediator, says Crawford, will protect “the pause” and not be intimidated by silence or need to instantly fill up that silence with discussion. This allows the parties to “take a pause, take the time to reflect back on what they are hearing, and to add clarification if what someone is reflecting back is imprecise, inadequate or incorrect.”

Making Divorce Mediation More Effective: WHY IT WORKS

Mediators who are even somewhat skilled in meditation practices can often better hear what is being said because they have set aside the need to be right in favor of generating “better problem solving and more sustainable outcomes and resolutions of legal disputes in the long run.”

According to Crawford, this allows a mediator to really be of value to clients by helping to move them out of conflict and into resolution–which is the reason people come to divorce mediation or child custody mediation in the first place.

Regardless of the mediation techniques to be used, it's important for mediators and clients to discuss how the process will work so everyone is clear on behavioral boundaries and what is ultimately at stake.

If you feel that mediation could help resolve your divorce or custody issues using my techniques that are Making Divorce Mediation More Effective, contact me to learn how I can help.

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About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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Family Centered Divorce ∙ Mediation ∙ Co-Parenting

Birt Family Law is the family centered law and mediation practice with a focus on Restorative Divorce; offering creative and supportive legal and mediation solutions with one goal: keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a positive resolution.

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