Conference takeaways for our clients
Recently, Barbara Kimbrough and Julie Mersereau from the Mediation Center co-chaired the Upstate conference for the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation in Canandaigua, NY. The presenters brought information and insights about many different aspects of divorce mediation and litigation. The following information from the speakers is particularly valuable for our clients, or anyone considering mediating their divorce:
- Litigating your divorce can have many different outcomes depending on the judge who hears your case. Judges have great latitude about how they interpret and apply matrimonial law, and most apply it through their own lens, with varying results, particularly in the area of spousal support. Both you and your spouse lose control of your situation, when you litigate and are bound by the decisions of the court. The mediation process puts you in control, and the decisions, in your agreement are your own.
- In making decisions about pensions, the importance of having pensions valued by a professional valuator was highlighted when one speaker compared the pensions of two people who had similar incomes, had worked about the same amount of time, and whose plans showed similar monthly payouts at retirement. It turned out that in valuing the two pensions, one was worth more than double the other due to cost of living adjustments and other benefits that came with that pension that were not part of the other. If you really want to have complete information when discussing the sharing of pensions, valuing them is important.
- Sometimes personality disorders are present in a party to mediation, and are effecting the process. Where known (diagnosed) or suspected disorders exist, it should be disclosed to the mediator so they can determine if the situation is right for mediation, and if it is, so the mediator can monitor it and adapt their interactions in the mediation so that the discussions remain balanced and effective.
- And lastly, from a speaker who specializes in team building, this can hold true for anyone: before you begin something, set your intention and goals for the outcome. During the event, check in with yourself and make sure you are on track and comfortable with the progress and afterwards, think about whether you accomplished your goals. What went right? What could have been done better, or a different way? Debrief afterwards with a friend or colleague or family member if necessary.