Divorce is a time of change for families. Plans for the children, division of property and financial arrangements all need to be worked out. Divorce is also a time of great emotional upheaval. These changes and emotions can result in conflicts between family members. How these conflicts are resolved can influence a family’s adjustment to divorce.
For most people, conflict is frightening and stressful. On the other hand, conflict can result in the productive airing of differences and can lead to creative solutions that address the changing needs of all family members. Too often in the divorce process, family members feel like bystanders while lawyers, judges, and others work out these crucial and intimate issues. Even in the face of anger, fear and hurt, it is possible for people to negotiate an agreement which balances the interests of each family member and benefits everyone in the long run.
Mediation is one way for family members to resolve their own conflicts during and after divorce. The mediator, a neutral professional, helps participants clearly define the issues in dispute and tone down the communication process so a rational discussion can take place and agreements can be reached. The mediator does not make decisions for the family but helps the family make decisions that are in everyone’s best interest.
It is important to remember that family conflicts are natural and normal, particularly in light of the strong feelings related to divorce. Conflicts which linger over time can hinder a family’s adjustment to divorce. How conflicts are resolved can also affect the adjustment process. Settlements which are reached by one party winning and the other losing rarely last. That kind of resolution usually breeds additional conflict.
The mediation process redefines conflict as a family problem rather than one person’s problem. The emotions of divorce are effectively managed so that they do not hinder the communication process. Better communication leads to better agreements. Consequently, solutions are reached by the productive airing of grievances so that the needs of participants can be addressed and solutions found which will be satisfactory to everyone.
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Below is a full scope of the mediation process.
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