by Samantha Tinter
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As the old saying goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage.” But what happens when the love goes? What happens when the love is lost, but not misplaced? What happens when no matter how hard we try to find it, will it to return or even “fake it”, it is simply no longer there?

One of the scariest places you may find yourself is questioning whether or not you still want to be married.  It is a pretty sobering moment when you can be utterly truthful with yourself and begin the conversation of coming to grips with the fact that you might want a divorce.

So many questions come flooding in: how did this happen? Why did this happen? Is it all my fault?  How can I get through this?  Can I afford this? What do I do now?  What about my kids? It’s almost enough to make you change your mind and just stay the course.

Everyone has heard all the horror stories from neighbors, cousins, colleagues and friends about how their divorce dragged on for years, the torment their soon to be ex is putting them through, the fighting over couches and wine glasses, how much the lawyers are getting and how they’re the ONLY ones making out in this whole mess, withholding money from each other, using the children as pawns, disagreeing over parenting plans and custody arrangements, when the ex has a new love interest and how that relationship will become a part of their kid’s lives, this list can quite literally go on for miles.

There are alternatives to fighting WWIII.  There are ways to minimize the collateral damage and actually walk away from a divorce not only intact but with an agreement that makes sense for YOUR family.  And like it or not, when you have children together, your soon to be ex is still part of your family.  So this agreement will also work for them as well.

It isn’t magic or hocus pocus being spouted here, it is quite simply the process of something called mediation.  Mediation is civil, respectful, goal focused, timely, individualized to the specific details of your life that make your situation unique, allows you to have the most say and control over your divorce and works to minimize the emotional trauma that can occur when a marriage dissolves.

Working with a trained professional divorce mediator can make all the difference when such a difficult decision like ending a marriage has been made.  This does not mean that lawyers are not involved, but their level of participation is very low as the bulk of the heavy lifting of items in a divorce agreement such as division of assets, alimony, child support, division of debts, and parenting plans are all handled with the mediators.  In addition to having the most say and control in all of the details regarding this agreement, mediation is almost always more timely and more cost efficient than having a lawyer handle it.

By definition, mediation means that a neutral party intervenes in a dispute in an attempt to help resolve it and this is exactly what happens in mediation sessions. A neutral third party experienced in the nuances of divorce helps guide and navigate the couple as they move through the divorce process, keeping them focused on the goals THEY have initially outlined as important.

Even though mediation offers a unique opportunity for the couple to work together, be reasonable and realistic, it is not always smooth sailing in mediation sessions.  There are times when conversations get heated and tempers flare, which is another reason why having someone trained in the art of mediation with the skills needed to disarm these moments is so vital.  Things can escalate with amazingly fast momentum and before you know it the discussion has exited the “goal highway” and emerged onto the “highway to hell.”

Now, it should also be noted that mediation is not for everyone.  And this is ok, divorce lawyers need business too.  Mediation is not for people that will risk everything (time, money, emotional stamina) to win.  It is not for people that are out to truly damage their spouse and cause destruction at any cost.

The people that come to mediators and get the most value and benefit from it are those that want to create the best possible outcome financially and emotionally for their family.  They want to maintain healthy familial ties with and for their children.  They want peace, fairness, civility and respect.  They want their family to come through a very dark time as unscathed as possible and be in a strong place to move forward and redefine how their family is structured.

Mediation is not family therapy nor does it substitute for it.  Typically people have tried this prior to contacting a divorce specialist but it is important to note that the majority of emotionally processing the stress of a divorce does not get the most attention in mediation sessions. However, throughout the mediation process, recommendations can be made for other professionals (Realtors, lawyers, appraisers, forensic accountants, therapists, etc.) to become involved as deemed necessary.

The ultimate goal of divorce mediation is a kinder, gentler approach to creating a plan that all parties involved can benefit from and feel that they’ve had a voice and say in what their new future will look like.


Bergen County Divorce Mediators

Samantha Tinter LCSW, and Adam Tinter LSW, are both social workers and family therapists trained in mediation through the NJAPM.  They mediate co-jointly with couples as they go through the divorce process and offer evening and Saturday appointments. www.bergencountydivorcemediators.com 201-616-9775

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