We’ve all heard the horror stories from friends, newspapers, blogs
and tabloids. The typical divorce can be a nightmare, and everybody loses.
Except, maybe, the divorce attorneys, who get paid for their time while
divorcing couples fight over money, houses and children.
This is the way it’s been ever since the founding of our country,
when we imported the British legal model for divorce—the adversarial
system. Now that one in every two marriages in this country ends in divorce,
the devastation caused by the system has come under question. Divorcing
clients often ask me as a New York divorce attorney and mediator, “Is
there a better way?”
My answer is “Yes.” It’s called “Divorce Mediation
and you won’t need an attorney.”
Mediation is new on the radar, and for the last few years is now becoming
more widely known. It was previously employed in labor negotiations, but
its use has been expanding to include family law problems.
As a psychologically-trained divorce attorney and mediator, I have developed
a highly successful divorce mediation method that guides couples through
the process saving time, money and pain.
Here’s how Divorce Mediation works:
The divorcing couple hires one individual, instead of two opposing divorce
lawyers, to help them resolve their differences. The divorce mediator
is an independent, unbiased individual, trained in mediation, (usually
a lawyer or a mental health professional), whose job is to facilitate
an agreement on all issues between the husband and wife. The results are
astonishing, and are achieved often in hours and weeks, instead of months
How does this happen?
The answer is in the process, and in the skills of the divorce mediator,
which include a good knowledge of negotiating, creative problem-solving,
and psychology. What happens when divorcing couples use the traditional
adversarial system? Each spouse hires a divorce lawyer, often paying from
$5,000 to $25,000 as an initial retainer for each gladiator. This down
payment will be used up at the rate of from $150 to over $900 per hour,
for the lawyers’ time, depending on the location (state, city),
and the expertise and reputation of the lawyer.
Since it is the divorce lawyer’s job to represent a client “zealously”
within the bounds of the law, the divorce attorneys usually embark upon
their mission enthusiastically, with the intent to “win” for
their client, whatever the definition of “win” might be in
the situation. This creates instant conflict, even between couples who
may have disagreements, but are not necessarily adversarial. The nature
of the legal system requires the participants to be adversaries.
The name of the game is to make things as difficult and uncomfortable as
possible for the other “side.” (Even the nomenclature is adversarial).
This is done by such methods as refusing to pay family bills, like the
mortgage and utilities, refusing to supply needed spending money to a
dependent spouse, and/or refusing to allow the other parent to visit freely
with the children. This behavior does not always happen, of course, but
it happens often enough, fueled by anger and hurt as to why the marriage
is ending, that it has become infamous for the pain it inflicts.
The goal of sparring divorce lawyers and clients is to make someone so
vulnerable that they will settle the entire matter on terms advantageous
to the other side. Not every divorcing couple starts out wanting to hurt
each other by withholding money or children.
Ultimately, judges will make decisions about who gets what, but not until
many months or even years go by, and thousands of dollars with delays,
adjournments, the slowness of the bureaucratic system, until justice delayed
is justice denied, with enormous financial and emotional cost to the entire
family, especially the children, who are sometimes used as pawns. Control
is no longer with the couple, but in the hands of strangers – the
judge and the divorce attorneys.
When couples see a divorce mediator, they have a strong tendency to talk
about their grievances during the marriage – what happened in the
past. There is plenty of blame and name-calling to go around. What divorce
mediators know, and use in their work, is that talking about the past
does not result in an agreement.
In fact, it often prevents agreement. Part of the role of the divorce mediator
is to direct the couple to talk about what they want for the future. This
feels sort of strange to the couple who is used to arguing about past behavior.
The divorce mediator will summarize, emphasizing useful information and
ignoring irrelevant and emotional comments.
Another technique is “normalizing” by which the couple is reassured
that their problems are not unique, and that other people have struggled
with the same issues before, and as a skilled mediator, I have helped
resolve their issues using my unique mediation process.
With over 35 years of experience as a divorce attorney and psychologically–trained mediator,
I have mastered techniques using psychology and sound legal strategy and
I am a strong advocate for a divorce process that costs less, can be accomplished
quickly and be less painful.
All our highly informative 1 hour consultations are FREE!
All consultations and mediation sessions are still available virtually.
I look forward to speaking with you.
Call New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner now to schedule your free consultation.