Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, many couples find themselves in a high conflict separation and divorce case. Each party individually may react reasonably to various life situations, in ordinary circumstances. However, as a couple, the two parties have both come to the point of no return where they automatically contradict each other, due to their hostility towards one another.
Many people wrongly assume that the only way to resolve a high conflict case is to retain counsel and head to court. They feel because there is a lot of tension between the parties, they will not be able to discuss the issues through mediation. Although there may be specific cases that cannot be settled without court intervention, mediation presents much better avenues for resolving high conflict separation and divorce issues than litigation.
Mediation presents a much better alternative to litigation for high conflict cases because it offers a non-adversarial setting. Each time you go to court to solve a problem, you further polarize the parties and their chances of settling the matter become progressively smaller. Once the matter has been initiated in court, the parties start to develop layers upon layers of conflict and mistrust. Court then becomes this vicious cycle where the parties keep fighting and nobody is getting anything resolved.
It is important for the mediator to assign extra time to deal with high conflict matters as these types of cases typically take much longer to mediate and work through the issues. Many times the issues involved are complex. The mediator may need to separate the parties from time to time to give the parties a break from each other, not to mention the mediator may need to speak to each party individually as the emotions start to run high and aggression starts to appear.
It is important that each party feels that their voice is being heard and what they have to say is not being shut out by the mediator or the other party involved. The only way the parties can move forward is once both parties are fully heard and all issues are laid on the table for discussion.
In order for mediation to be successful in high conflict cases, the mediator must be non-confrontational towards the party that is generating most or all of the conflict in mediation. Mediation is more likely to succeed if both parties realize there is a mutual advantage to coming to a resolution. Equally important is that both parties enter into negotiations in good faith.
Once the parties realize the high cost of litigation not to mention the emotional effects on their children, mediation suddenly become much more attractive. The bottom line is that a skilled and professional mediator can assist in resolving any cases; even high conflict ones that involve anger and high intensity emotions.
Written by Marian Grande, Mediator
JULY 9, 2020