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The Many Faces of Mediation: Couples and Families

Tuesday, November, 26, 2013

By Susan Ingram on November 5, 2013

The Many Faces of Mediation: Couples and Families By Susan Ingram

I published an article recently about marital mediation in the context of couples who have been working with a family or couples therapist. Since this is such an important and little understood subject, I would like to take the opportunity to explain this process from a broader perspective.

Simply put, a mediator is a skilled conflict resolution professional who serves as an impartial person to guide/facilitate the difficult discussions a couple needs to have in order to reach viable solutions to move forward with their lives. The mediator does not tell the couple what to do, or decide for them how their issues should be resolved (as an arbitrator would do).

Ultimately, the mediator helps the couple frame an agreement that meets both of their needs and establishes a better foundation for conversations between them in the future – which is especially important if there are children involved. The beauty of mediation is that it is forward-looking and pragmatic.

In the family and couples context, most people don’t realize how adaptable the mediation process is, and how
mediation can be useful at any stage of a couple’s relationship and for various types of situations. Perhaps best known is divorce mediation. But that only describes one option that is available to a couple. A mediator can be called upon by a couple at any stage in their relationship – whether or not they are legally married, or if married, whether they want to stay married or instead are seeking to end their relationship through a separation or divorce.

While mediators do not have to be attorneys to do this work (there are many fine mediators who have backgrounds in the mental health and other non-legal fields), there are advantages if a couple works with an attorney-mediator, since an attorney-mediator can draft any legal documents that will need to be prepared for the couple once they have concluded their discussions. Such documents can include: pre-nuptial agreements that are entered into before a couple marries; post-nuptial agreements that are entered into while the couple is married; and divorce agreements that end in the termination of a marriage.

Are you experiencing some conflict in your relationship? I can help you explore the options available to you and answer any questions you may have about the mediation process.

Susan Ingram, Esq.

Susan Ingram 
Susan Ingram Mediation & Coaching 
[email protected]