As divorce professionals, we strive to help couples navigate the complexities of ending their marriages, while minimizing emotional turmoil and financial strain. Amidst the traditional litigation process, a powerful alternative has emerged: Marital Mediation. This collaborative process offers numerous benefits to couples and professionals alike. In this article, we will explore what marital mediation is and why divorce professionals should offer it to their clients.
What is Marital Mediation?
The term “Marital Mediation” was first coined by mediator John Fiske in 1997 to describe family mediation designed to help couples stay married. As described by marital mediation expert Susan Boardman, “Marital mediation is a process where a neutral third party uses mediation techniques to help couples improve their relationship. It is a series of guided negotiations in which couples are helped to craft concrete, practical solutions to issues troubling their marriage. Couples create explicit guidelines involving the behavioral changes each party is able to make toward addressing areas of friction, resulting in a mediated template of future behavior. Marital mediation is thus task oriented and time limited.” (Boardman, Marital Mediation: A Psychological Perspective, Conflict Resolution Quarterly 2013).
Why Divorce Professionals Should Offer Marital Mediation
- Client Satisfaction: Marital mediation typically results in higher levels of satisfaction for both parties. By working together to find solutions, clients feel more in control of their own destinies and are more likely to respect the outcomes. This can lead to more stable, long-lasting agreements and happier clients, which in turn benefits your practice.
- Cost-Effectiveness: The mediation process can be significantly less expensive than traditional litigation. With fewer billable hours spent on court appearances and document preparation, clients can save money, making it a more attractive option for those with limited financial resources. This can also contribute to your practice’s reputation as a cost-effective and client-centered option for divorce.
- Reduced Conflict: Mediation fosters open communication and cooperation, helping to reduce animosity between parties. This can lead to more amicable post-divorce relationships, which is especially important for couples with children. By offering a service that promotes reduced conflict, you position yourself as a professional who prioritizes the well-being of families.
- Time Efficiency: The litigation process can be lengthy, sometimes lasting years. Mediation, on the other hand, can often be completed in a matter of weeks or months. This expedited process allows clients to move forward with their lives more quickly, while also freeing up time for divorce professionals to take on additional cases.
- Flexibility: Marital mediation offers flexibility in terms of scheduling and structure. Clients can choose when and where meetings take place, which can help accommodate work schedules and other commitments. This flexibility also extends to the agreement itself, as couples can tailor their settlement to meet their unique needs and circumstances.
- Expanding Your Practice: Offering marital mediation services can help diversify your practice, attracting clients who may not have considered your services otherwise. By providing a broader range of options, you demonstrate your commitment to meeting clients’ needs and staying at the forefront of the divorce industry.
Marital mediation is a valuable addition to the repertoire of any divorce professional. It offers numerous benefits for clients, including cost-effectiveness, reduced conflict, and increased satisfaction with the divorce process. By offering this service, you not only expand your practice, but also position yourself as a compassionate and forward-thinking professional, committed to the well-being of the families you serve.
Susan Guthrie® has been one of the leading family law attorneys and mediators in the country for more than 32 years with a practice focused on high net worth and high conflict complex cases. She is also one of the founders of the Mosten Guthrie Academy, the premier provider for family law, collaborative and mediation training for professionals. Her award-winning podcast, The Divorce & Beyond® Podcast, is one of the top 1.5 % of podcasts worldwide and she is known to millions of listeners around the world as the “divorce voice you can trust!” Susan regularly presents at professional events and conferences around the world and her recent featured programs and keynote addresses include the 2022 Academy of Professional Family Mediators Annual Conference, the 2022 National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals Annual Advanced Mediation Training Retreat, the 2022 New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators Annual Conference and the 2023 New York Council of Divorce Mediators Annual Conference. She is honored to serve as the Vice-Chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution and looks forward to leading the Section as Chair in 2024.