Meeting the Challenge of Impasse
Potential divorce mediation clients are sometimes concerned that they will not be able to come to agreement on decisions that need to be made to end their marriage.
A mediator cannot guarantee a successful outcome, measured by both spouses being satisfied with the final agreement. Yet most mediations succeed, even many that seem doomed to failure because of impasse. Why is that?
When mediation is in jeopardy with my clients, I take every opportunity to point out the risks of leaving mediation and going to court—an indefinite delay in the outcome, polarization of children, emotional impacts, disintegration of trust and loss of control over the result.
Sometimes, simply pointing out how ugly the alternative is helps you try harder to find a solution that will work for both of you.
However, this may not be enough to motivate a shift for an entrenched spouse. So then what?
In handling a potential impasse in divorce mediation, ask yourself if a huge difference between the two of you may actually be smaller than you think. A mediator has an opportunity to pour a drop of optimism into a pool of negativity. I outline all of the current areas of agreement—and usually there are many things you already have agreed upon. Noticing what has gone well can refocus everyone, so that bridging a gap may no longer seem insurmountable.
In an effort to rescue a mediation that is facing impasse, here are some suggestions I share with my clients:
I will use whatever tools I have to produce a successful outcome, As long as you don’t give up, I won’t either.
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