The Importance of Listening in Mediation

Posted on July 26, 2017 in

In Georgia, most family law cases are referred to mediation. This includes contested divorce cases – cases in which the parties do not agree on all the terms of a divorce – legitimations, and modifications of custody or child support. Mediation is a way to resolve these sensitive and personal issues without involving a judge. There are a multitude of potential benefits associated with mediation, including: lower legal expenses, faster results, resolution of conflicts, more control over and customization of the results, and a calmer emotional environment. For mediation to succeed, listening is key.

Family law cases will typically not resolve in mediation unless both parties feel as though they have been heard and are being respected.  People want others to understand how they feel, where they are coming from, and why certain issues are important to them. They want their emotions validated. When an individual feels like others are truly listening to him or her, they develop a sense of calm and confidence. They are more emotionally capable of having logical, productive conversations.  In a family law mediation, when the parties listen to what each other is saying, they begin to better understand each other’s perspectives and are more likely to reach their desired outcomes.

A good mediator can help facilitate such productive discussions. Their role is to ensure each party is able to speak freely and express their needs and emotions while still being respectful to the other party. Mediators can help direct the conversation by asking the parties to clarify what is important to them and why. Mediators often serve as a go-between – meeting with the parties separately to facilitate these conversations even when tensions are running high. Mediators treat the situation with care and compassion; they will honor what each party believes is a fair settlement while trying to help the parties reach an agreement.

It is important to note that even if the mediation does not result in settlement, by listening to the other party, an individual will learn more about their case overall. They might realize they have more common ground with the other party than they realized. Additionally, by listening to their ex, they might begin to better understand their ex’s perspective and motivations. Whether that new-found knowledge is positive or negative, it can influence how they conduct their case going forward, and potentially, help them come to terms emotionally with their divorce.

If you, or someone you know, is in the process of getting divorced and needs a mediator, contact Max Ruthenberg-Marshall at (678) 435-9069 or Max is a registered mediator with extensive experience in family law matters and divorce.  Her goals are to help people move forward to the next chapter of their lives, and to be healthy, happy, and whole at the conclusion of their case.