CENTRE FOR MEDIATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION ONLINE

Knowledge Base

DIVORCED AND STILL ARGUING?               MEDIATE!             

April, 2017                                                                                                                       Written by CMDR Staff

 

 

Months, even years, of haggling and anxiety were finally at an end.

The judge had accepted their Separation Agreement, granting their petition for divorce. 

A new beginning was in the offing… 

 

Yet the initial relief, tinged as it may be with sadness, might well be short-lived.  

Divorced couples are often faced with agreements that do little to help them

navigate an evolving, and even rocky, future.  We all know that tomorrow is

unpredictable, but unresolved or changed circumstances pose greater hardships

for divorced couples than for married ones, if for no other reason than a failure to

reach an agreement may lead to costly and unsettling legal intervention.

 

At the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, we have reviewed our post-

divorce mediations in an effort to discover if conflicts after divorce could be

prevented, or at least reduced.  We identified two different primary causations

underlying post-divorce conflict:

 

  For some couples, let’s call them “Group A”, their divorce agreement simply did

not address future events.  Individuals described legal negotiations as drawn out

and painful, beset by emotional conflicts and accusations.  The need for closure

took center stage over the actual terms of the agreement.  The end product focused

on the key elements of who got what (property settlement) and who paid what to

whom (support).  The details of their agreements were conspicuously absent. 

Even the terms of the custodial arrangement were notably sparse.  Embroiled in

conflict and worn down by a long and costly process created little interest in

pursuing, what at the time seemed minutiae.  “Don’t worry,” the couple was

assured by counsel, “If problems arise, you can return to court.”  And predictably,

return they did.  Couples in this group experienced problems galore.

  

While the list of their conflicts is long, the key areas of future dissention resulted

from the lack of precise agreements on:

 

·      Education of the children, particularly college

·      Changes in support based on changes in income of the Husband and/or   the Wife

·      Schedule and child-related difficulties on custodial arrangements

 

The second group of couples, labeled here as" Group B" got into trouble over

unanticipated changes in circumstances.  These couples had agreements that

included more detail but fell short in anticipating changed events.  Agreements

were drafted either as if change would not or could not occur or with the court

positioned as the vehicle for handling the unpredictable future.  Why worry about

tomorrow, the Separation Agreement implied; problems may never arise.  And, of

course, while this statement is accurate, it is also short-sighted.  At the least, one

needs to question why agreements did not contain a process or processes for

dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow.  If change does not arise, if conflicts are

avoided, no loss has been experienced.  But if problems do emerge, the couple is

not left with any resolution route except the court house.

 

At the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, we believe the old adage:  “The

devil lies in the detail.”  To us, an agreement which is clear and specific as to

beginning points and ends, as to the details of property, support, and the children,

including education, death, and taxes, provides insurance for protecting couples

from the surprises of tomorrow.

 

The good news is, it may not be too late.  Increasingly couples who litigated their

divorce or who had difficult, long drawn-out legal interactions (?battles,) are

looking for another avenue; a more benign, more cost-effective method for

tacking post-divorce issues.  This population, who never even considered

mediation as an option for their divorec, is now approaching mediation as a

better route for silencing the aruments and calming the tensions.

 

Give mediation a try.  What do you have to lose?  

First consultation (40 mins.) is Free! 

 

 

 



Free in-person or telephone consultations available Literature and fees are available upon request.
To schedule an appointment, please call 781-239-1600 or e-mail us at cmdr@cmdronline.com