When I receive a phone call about divorce mediation, I am often asked whether the caller is a good candidate for mediation. The conversation often leads to a description of the conflict the couple is experiencing that is the reason for their divorce. How, I am asked, can we mediate when we are not able to have a civil conversation?
It is a misconception that divorcing couples need to be able to communicate well to use divorce mediation successfully. The majority of couples who divorce have strained communication when they begin mediation. That does not rule out a successful divorce mediation process.
More important than the ability for the divorcing couple to communicate with each other are certain other qualities each of them should have:
• The ability to be aware of and articulate their needs and goals for the divorce process.
• A degree of empathy for their spouse’s situation.
• The patience to truly and actively listen while their spouse speaks.
• The willingness to ask questions and not jump to conclusions about how the divorce process will end.
• The understanding of, and acceptance that, the divorce mediator will facilitate conversations between the divorcing couple, but not make decisions for them.
The vast majority of couples who begin divorce mediation are successful. The rewards of a non-adversarial divorce are substantial and worth the effort.