Lara and Tom were in my office for their third session. The first two meetings flowed well as they worked through a parenting schedule. Now it was time to work out their finances. Though they were aware of each other’s salaries, they never discussed and knew little about the value of each other’s assets.
Lara had a small retirement account of her own, but was told by a lawyer she consulted in view of their divorce that she would get a share of Tom’s pension. Tom had worked hard his whole life to get to where he was, and felt he should not have to give her any of his retirement money, especially because she had some savings from her inheritance. Lara argued that the inheritance was for their children and not for her to spend.
They went back and forth, both giving arguments to defend their positions. By the time the session was over, nothing had been resolved. They were both discouraged that this session turned into a battle and had set them back in their divorce settlement.
Weeks later, they came back to mediation saying that they had met and that each of them had agreed to make efforts to reach a compromise. While the final decisions were not made during the mediation session, it did allow them to open up the dialogue, disclose their assets, hear out each other’s requests and give them an opportunity to debate their respective points of view. The time that elapsed in between the mediation sessions allowed for their discussion to sink in and for them come to a resolution.
Having faith in this process, being honest with oneself and with one another are essential requirements to a positive result. You may not walk out of each session with a finished product, but if you have all the information at hand, and you are willing to work together, you will be well on your way to finding the right solutions, in and outside of the mediation room.
A mediation meeting may not always bring out immediate results. However, mediation is a conduit to finding answers and solutions even though the process sometimes may take more time, twists and turns than expected.
Have you had frustrating conversations that seem to create more problems than solutions? What did you do to bring about a positive result? Please share your thoughts in the box below.
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on