Many people assume that Alternative Dispute Resolution methods (like Mediation or Collaboration) won’t work if the couple is not getting along well, and that their only option is heading straight to court. In fact, Mediation and Collaboration are actually designed for conflict management. Too often Litigation can give free reign, or even exacerbate conflict, because it is adversarial in nature — it encourages each party to build the best case they can for their own position and against the other’s.
ADR, instead of focusing on a conversation with a third party decision maker (i.e. arguing the case), encourages cooperation and assists each party in talking to the other to work out a mutually agreeable solution. I should clarify, however, that I am talking about approaches that are alternatives to Litigation, not the Settlement Conference form of mediation that is a part of the Litigation process.
Since working with a divorcing spouse can be difficult, especially given the strong emotions and competing interests involved, ADR professionals spend significant time developing tools and skills for managing the conflict between the parties. In particular, the Collaborative approach emphasizes the use of a team model where each team member has mediation training, and the team specifically includes a Divorce Coach from a family counseling background.
Some of the techniques used include “reframing” statements, exploring the interests behind positions, emphasizing respectful listening, and coaching in non-defensive communication. If you want to avoid turning your divorce into a battle but don’t know how, talk to one of our attorneys about alternatives to litigation.