By Attorney Howard Iken: In addition to working as a divorce and custody attorney, I also provide divorce mediation. Even though mediation generates far less money than divorce and custody cases, I find there are many opportunities to study people, attorneys, and strategy. This allows me to polish up my skills as a strategist and negotiator. It is incredibly helpful and justifies the time I spend as a mediator. I get to see the internal, behind the scenes thinking in the parties to a case and also area attorneys involved in that case. I also get to see the various stages of divorce mediation and how predictable those stages are. This article will concentrate on divorce mediations where there are no attorneys and both sides are self represented. There are several distinct stages I have come to observe in many mediations. The first stage is the beginning, where both sides are curious what the other side wants and wants to keep the mediation at a low conflict level. Many mediations begin with both sides thinking there is no real dispute and the other party surely thinks alike on the basic facts. A divorce mediation normally begins with an opening statement to explain mediation. Then things quickly proceed to asking each side what they think the real issues are. That is where the first real shock begins – when both side realize there is a radically different idea of what is “fair.” For the second stage I normally separate the two sides in different rooms. That is where the real work begins. Each person then begins to open up – and tell me what the real beefs are. In a typical divorce mediation I go back and forth between the rooms and try to bring each side closer to an agreement. There can be much bitterness and anger but progress is pretty steady. This stage is the longest and hardest. Stage three is where each side starts thinking: “Hey, this may work! There is a way out after all” I start to see tensions ease and hidden smiles come out little by little. But then there is Stage four – the realization that if the divorce mediation works and we sign an agreement, this all becomes real. At that point one or both sides become quiet because a corner is about to be turned – a permanent change in their lives. Stage four is the most critical point because it is at that point that personal positions change, the small stuff grows, and the agreement may spin apart. If we can get past Stage four, we are approaching the runway. At that point we normally have a draft agreement that each side is reviewing and working on. More often than not each party starts to show stability and happiness again because they realize the end is near, it is inevitable, and their journey will become more predictable. If I can get the parties to that point there is almost a certainty they will walk away with a signed agreement. And with each mediation I walk away with more skill I can use in later cases.
Divorce Mediation in Tampa Florida
Howard Iken is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator in Tampa, Florida. He is available to mediate paternity, divorce, custody, and modification cases for both self – represented and attorney – represented people.