As a divorce attorney and mediator, I can tell you divorce litigation is
very rarely a positive process. Mediated and negotiated settlements are
increasingly popular especially among divorcing couples’ in today’s
A high conflict couple is generally a couple who is having difficulty communicating,
who sometimes engage in threatening or manipulative behavior, and who
often need a third party to support productive discussions.
As a psychologically-trained divorce attorney and mediator for over 35
years, I see anger and resentment playing a big role in many couples'
inability to communicate effectively.
My role, whether mediating or negotiating, is to help put a lid on all
this non-productive behavior. When anger and resentment become the center
of any relationship, the conflict in the relationship takes on a life
of its own, and thoughtful, productive conversations become impossible.
My unique psychologically-infused divorce mediation process addresses these
I met with Elaina and Rocco virtually about 6 months ago for a consultation.
During our first meeting it became clear to me they were a high conflict
couple. Elaina introduced the idea of mediation to her husband, and he
considered it because it would be less expensive than both of them hiring
During our first session, they discussed their tumultuous relationship
with me and immediately started rehashing the past.
They continued to voice their grievances and kept interrupting each other.
I intervened and cautioned that the past had no place in our discussion,
and mediation was about finding solutions and moving forward, not reliving the past.
They continued to argue back and forth, and seldom came up for air. I listened
carefully, empathized, advised, encouraged and guided their discussions.
We eventually discussed assets, real estate, 401(k) plans, child support,
spousal support, visitation, life insurance, health insurance, taxes and
their mounting debt issues over the next few meetings.
Along the way, the disruptive behaviors joined the process, but I repeatedly
reminded them of the goal, kept a more productive conversation going,
and helped them make important decisions which I documented in preparation
of their settlement agreement.
It is not unusual for a high-conflict couple to fight for control in the
mediation process. My role as a mediator is to manage this, be the voice
of reason, identify and address some of the emotional issues infecting
the relationship, and to provide recommendations for resolution.
One of the main issues, although not the only one, was that the wife had
a smoking and drinking problem that the husband repeatedly addressed as
annoying, irresponsible, and it really triggered his anger.
I was able to help the wife with this, as part of my mediation process,
and she is now working with a psychologist who is part of my team who
is experienced in the treatment of obsessive behaviors and addictions.
For this couple mediation is working really well. I expect them to make
some final decisions regarding custody and visitation shortly and the
mediation process should conclude in the next few weeks.
If mediation is new to you, it is an effective, cooperative process in
which a neutral third party (me) helps couples reach a fair settlement.
During mediation, I request honesty, promote positive communication, handle
the couples’ expressions of emotion, reinforce positive decisions,
uncover and address the root of underlying issues, and help couples stay
focused on finding solutions and preparing for the future, instead of
arguing about the past.
If you are interested in hearing about how this highly successful mediation
method can work for you, give me a call! I will be happy to answer all
your questions about mediation!
Don’t worry, even if you are angry at each other, I can help! You
will be surprised; I am an effective and fair referee! J
FREE ONE-HOUR CONSULTATIONS are
conveniently conducted virtually to reduce risk.
Call now to book your free consultation. 212.734.1551.
I look forward to working with you, and helping you find productive solutions!
Stay healthy and safe!
Call New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner today to schedule your free consultation!