I recently had a divorce mediation where, as often is the case, I was working with two divorce lawyers and two co-parents who couldn't stand each other. It literally took me hours to get them into the same room together and, although these parties had many written divorce settlement agreements between them, years later we were still there, fighting over interpretation and compliance.
In speaking with them alone (I sent the lawyers out of the room to do child support and other financial calculations) about their practically non-existant communication in the years since the divorce had become final, I targeted my focus on an area that I had been doing unconsciously for many years. It hit me like a hammer on the head. Of course, it was so simple!
It doesn't matter how many agreements that parties make with each other, the only way they are going to live up to them is if they want to! Therefore, it is my job to inspire a desire in them to begin to agree with each other, and to work together as a team to raise their kids.
It is my belief that this is one of the primary roles of the mediator. To inspire the desire.
Once that is done, we can roll up our sleeves and help them start to dig through that pile of resentment that is keeping the them from behaving in a way that is best for their children, and also give them a new set of tools to enable them to work together as a team.
Add, as a further incentive, if the divorce mediator needs it, the co-parents can be reminded that it will also vastly improve the quality of their own lives and future relationships, minimize the effects of divorce on children, and their friends and families probably wouldn't mind it one bit either!
Cynthia Tiano, Esq.
Author, "Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula"