Couples that select mediation are often looking for 3 things: 1) fairness, 2) to make their own decisions, and 3) a more economical way to reach resolution of their marital and family situation.
Fairness: Even in a high-conflict situation, most couples are seeking fairness. While it may be difficult to set aside historically challenging personal dynamics, it is possible in most cases because ultimately parties want to move on with their lives. Determining whether an agreement is fair can be based upon objective or subjective standards. Objective standards may use certain reference points such as established formulas for maintenance and child support. Subjective criteria may be based upon the unique circumstances of the family such as the cash flow needs of each household when two homes are established or meeting the needs of a parent to re-enter the workforce. In mediation, we often use objective standards to inform the decision-making and then develop other options. This brainstorming often produces creative results that were previously not considered. The couple can then decide what best suits their family situation. Enlarging the focus of the discussion in a mediated case usually produces a better result.
Decision-making: In the mediation process, the parties make their own decisions through a conversation facilitated by a mediator. With an experienced mediator, these discussions are usually very productive. Most parties would rather make their own decisions, even if it means a compromise, rather than have a third party decide.
The Family Budget: Mediation is usually a less expensive alternative to litigation. Making a commitment to provide the information needed to make decisions and to work at a productive pace decreases the cost of reaching a satisfactory resolution.
So, in the end, what do we owe each other? As I mediator, I owe my clients my full attention, experience and neutrality. We owe each other a commitment to the process and to work with integrity, dignity and respect. That is why I chose to work in this process.