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, infidelity, homes, 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, “Is there a
My answer is “Yes.” It’s called Mediation!
Mediation has become more widely known over the last few years. 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 method that
guides couples through the process saving time, money, and sanity.
How Divorce Mediation Works
In mediation, 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 couple. The results are astonishing
and are achieved often in hours and weeks instead of months and years.
Why Mediation is Faster
Mediation is a faster process to divorce that depends on the skills of
the divorce mediator, which include a good knowledge of negotiating, creative
problem-solving, and psychology.
The Traditional Adversarial System
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 $150 to more than $900 per hour for the lawyers’
time depending on the location 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 achieved 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 are spent on
delays, adjournments, and the slowness of the bureaucratic system until
justice delayed is justice denied.
The adversarial system comes 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 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
approach often feels strange to the couple, who are used to arguing about
The divorce mediator will summarize productive points, 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. As a skilled mediator, I have helped
thousands of couples resolve their divorce issues using my unique mediation process.
With more than 35 years of experience as a divorce attorney and psychologically
trained mediator, I am a strong advocate for divorce with dignity.
As a medical professional, I have mastered techniques using psychology
and sound legal strategy to get couples through the divorce process without
going insane or draining their bank accounts.
Call now to schedule your free consultation!
I look forward to speaking with you.
Call New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner now to learn all about mediation
and how it can help you and your family?
A free consultation is a phone call away!