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mediation, it's not just for divorce

I’d like to share with you a little-known type of mediation…Marital Mediation. Most people I encounter only think of Divorce mediation; in fact, mediation can be used in a wide variety of scenarios and for many different types of relationships. For today, I will focus on a few non-divorce options for couples (that are not therapy).

You might think your marriage is over, but your spouse does not. Obviously, if you are dead set on divorcing there are ways to do it over their objection, but there are other options you could consider.

It is not a binary decision- stay together or not- there are many options in between that an educated mediator or other professional can share with you. Discernment Counseling and Marital Mediation are the two that I will address today. Both options require consent of both parties at each stage of the process, and should you choose to stop and go another route that is your prerogative.

  • Discernment Counseling is not couples counseling. It is short term (1-5 sessions) and at the end of each session the professional checks in with both parties to find out if they would like to come back for another session. The goal is to assist the couple in attaining greater clarity and confidence in their decision-making about the future of their marriage. It is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what happened to their marriage and each person’s contributions to the problems. Unlike couples therapy it is not oriented toward resolving problems or restoring the relationship. It is a structured process consisting of 3 parts incorporating joint and private meetings with the Counselor. The focus of the sessions is around decision-making about a number of paths available to you.

  • Marital Mediation is a series of guided discussions with a mediator, the couple discusses practical solutions to issues troubling the relationship and work to craft a concrete plan. The process if voluntary and anyone can end the process at any time. The mediator does not give you advice or tell you what to do but helps you have a conversation and generate options that will work for you. This is a time limited, future focused and task-oriented process, which is different from couples therapy.

If you and your spouse are having trouble in your marriage and aren’t sure how to move forward, please contact my office or a divorce professional in your area to learn more about ALL of your options.

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