When couples separate, one spouse generally makes the decision to leave the relationship, and the other spouse is left to struggle with that decision. The person leaving usually has had the “luxury” of an intact marriage to ponder whether separation is the right choice. That person may take weeks, months or perhaps even years to finally make the choice to end the relationship. The other spouse may be completely unaware that his or her partner has struggled with the decision to leave. Alternatively, he or she may be aware of problems but may opt to avoid or ignore them. When the ultimate decision is delivered, that spouse often has feelings of fear, confusion, abandonment and distrust.
Psychologists will tell you that the anxiety created by this scenario is one of the greatest stresses that a person may face in his or her lifetime. In most instances, it is even greater than the loss of a loved one to death.
Why is this so? The end of a relationship raises so many fears: fear of being alone, fear relating to the children’s emotional health, concerns about economic security, fear of being disenfranchised from children, fear of the court system, and fear of the economic impact that prolonged litigation will have on the family.
If these concerns were not enough, communication becomes severely compromised, and each person’s ability to trust one another is destroyed. Children are exposed to an environment filled with distrust, anger and icy silence, and they may continue to be exposed to this atmosphere for years if litigation or negotiation between attorneys moves slowly.
The Litigated Divorce
Operating out of fear and distrust, parents feel the need to “protect” themselves. Often, attorneys are immediately retained and lengthy, stressful and expensive adversarial proceedings ensue, which may involve court appearances, depositions and conferences in which clients often feel coerced into settling their cases. These proceedings, which can last for years, only add greater stress to the existing emotional crisis that already exists. The psychological and economic impact of litigation on a family can be enormous and, at the end of the process, both parties must risk a resolution imposed upon them by a judge, who, although competent and well-meaning, cannot truly know or understand you and your family.
The Mediated Divorce
Participating in mediation has significant advantages over litigation. In a safe and peaceful atmosphere, the experienced mediator will use a myriad of psychologically based interventions and techniques to help you safely and objectively explore settlement options, spark creativity, avoid or break through impasse and, ultimately, assist you in creating a comprehensive and creative plan for your future and the future of your children. This plan is in your own words and follows the rules you set for yourselves. Superior outcomes are achieved in hours, not years. The cost of this process is substantially less than conventional litigation.
The answers to your questions about the mediation process can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions about Family and Divorce Mediation section of this site. If you are unfamiliar with the mediation process, I suggest that you read the questions in the order presented. If, after reviewing these materials, you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to give you the information that you need to decide if participating in mediation is the right choice for you.
Also remember that a web site such as this is merely an introduction to my practice. In my opinion, it cannot take the place of a complimentary consultation. If you would like to meet with me, please contact me for an appointment at either my Albany, New York, office or at my Clifton Park, New York, office.
Jeffrey M. Cohen, Esq.