Divorce mediation can work well for many people. It helps couples reach decisions on all areas in their divorce agreement- parenting plan, division of assets and debts, child support, alimony, etc. It can be done quickly, privately and for significantly less money compared to litigation. However, sometimes, in order to best serve our clients, we will not work with a couple even if they want to choose mediation.
The other day I got two phone calls, one from the husband and then one immediately following from the wife. It came to light that they currently have a restraining order in place and there were recent incidents of domestic violence. I explained to both of them that while I appreciated their enthusiasm for wanting to resolve their divorce through mediation it does not mean that I would see them as clients. The issue of safety is paramount-- both for the mediator and the clients. I don’t feel safe being in a small office with two people who a judge recently said should not even be near one another
Additionally when there has been domestic violence the power dynamic in the couple shifts, making it difficult for each party to have equal input into the decision making process. With a history of domestic violence usually one person is dominant in the relationship and the other submissive. It is hard to stick up for yourself if you are scared of the other person. At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we help both parties have input into the life-altering decisions you are both making for your separate futures. Even if there has not been domestic violence but it is obvious during the mediation process that only person has say regarding decisions, we recommend stopping mediation and seeking an attorney who can advocate for the silent person’s needs. You need someone to stand up for you if you are unable to do so on your own behalf.
So, while divorce mediation works well for a large majority of people who walk through our door, every now and then we have to stop you before you even start.
For more information about divorce mediation contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC, at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.