A recent post on Ripley’s Believe it or Not features a resort and spa in Saratoga, New York, that offers a $5,000 weekend divorce package that enables couples to “check in married, and check out single.” While many people choose not to believe some of Ripley’s more unusual postings, the upstate New York “divorce hotel” is not a gag, but is truly the real deal. In fact, among the little extras the divorce package offers are to allow a television crew to videotape your proceedings for inclusion in an upcoming reality show.
Baring one’s life on a reality show might be some people’s idea of gaining their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame; but the social and economic costs of living such a dream would surely seem too ponderous once they appreciate the power of divorce mediation, and how it can chart out how one would live the remainder of one’s life.
Indeed, the dissolution of marriage is hardly an event to be trifled with, as it has ramifications on countless aspects of the divorcee’s life. This includes children, estate, career, and often even one’s over-all outlook and demeanor. When two people have been entwined in each other’s lives for a substantial amount of time, disentangling oneself from the other is not as straightforward as canceling a contract.
It is hardly ever possible to simply part ways, and “have nothing to do with each other” when there are numerous issues to be discussed, negotiated, and agreed upon. The aforementioned divorce hotel surely does include some sessions of mediation between the golf, swimming, hiking, tennis, and spa sessions, but the power of divorce mediation surely demands a great deal of time. In fact, professional mediation agencies typically recommend ten two-hour sessions with both parties present to settle everything satisfactorily.
Divorcing couples who believe they can simply “settle things like adults” are precisely the ones who become involved in angry altercations in the future when one or the other partners fails to abide by conditions agreed upon. These range from doing their share in parenting activities like attending ball games and assisting in education, to more mundane issues like financial support.
Formal mediation sessions are not limited to division of spoils and responsibilities. Mediators endeavor to understand the situation, needs, and capabilities of each party and design the best possible arrangement that would be mutually beneficial and acceptable to all, including their children. This is a lot more complicated than one might initially believe, and certainly requires highly qualified professionals to conduct such mediation sessions. One additional advantage of subjecting oneself to mediation is to add a legal touch to the commitments agreed upon by the divorcing partners.
Contrary to what one may gather from movies and, yes, even from reality television shows, mediation is not that hostile, all-out greedy, and adversarial process that showbiz wants to project. Rather, the power of divorce mediation and a professional facilitator lies in the ability to foster a process that is constructive and mutually beneficial, without actually dictating on the two parties what course of action they believe is best.
In some fashion, mediation is a valuable process that focuses less on the break-up and the unpleasantness of the past, and enables the divorcees to move on with their lives, albeit apart from each other. The process helps establish the manner and means by which the divorcees deal with and communicate with each other and with their children, and how to address any crises that may arise in the future. The formal and unimpassioned negotiation and agreement process also enables the children to accept and deal with the separation of their parents, diminishing the trauma associated with the dissolution of any family.
The expertise and the power of divorce mediation experts are valuable in situations where there is an element of dominance or bullying by one partner over another, often being the precipitating issue for the divorce. Facilitators do not proceed with the mediation process in which parties are clearly in positions of strength or weakness in the face of the other. Oftentimes, this dominance is exacerbated with instances of physical violence. Instead, the facilitator strives to correct the power imbalances through various techniques before attempting to conduct mediation of their divorce arrangements.
Naturally, divorce mediation, being a professional service entails a proper professional fee for the facilitator and the organization. Such expenses are, more often than not, only an insignificant fraction of what it would otherwise cost divorced parties in litigation expenses for divorces that turn sour in the future when one partner fails to abide with agreements. It is, thus, advisable for smart divorcing couples to avail of such services, rather than giving reality TV shows more juicy material about conflict between former spouses.