Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mediation to Stay Married?

How personal health is the foundation for marital health?Mediation to Stay Married (also known as Marital Mediation and Marriage Mediation) is a method of helping couples who are experiencing marital problems and who would prefer to stay together rather than get divorced.

Mediation to stay married

What is the difference between Mediation to Stay Married and Marital Mediation?

Marital Mediation is a term used by many mediators to mean mediation with a married couple that is trying to stay married, but it also means divorce mediation to some people. Sometimes people enter Marital Mediation who are not sure whether or not they will be divorcing, so the term is quite neutral. Mediation to Stay Married is mediation with an intent or aim to try to work out problems in the marriage that the couple is suffering over.

How does Mediation to Stay Married work?

Mediation to Stay Married does not seek to delve deeply into the past or interpersonal, psychological issues of the couple (or its individual members.) Through Mediation to Stay Married, the couple can develop concrete plans or modes of action that can be helpful to address their marital problems. The couple sees a trained mediator (often a practicing attorney or a mental health professional who has mediation training), who uses short-term dispute resolution techniques to provide help in breaking impasses and in improving the couple’s interpersonal communication skills. Sometimes using a “new horse” gives a couple the extra push it needs to get over a difficult period and to move forward to the next step in their marriage.

What is the difference between Mediation to Stay Married and marital counseling?

Marital counseling is performed by a mental health professional and involves therapeutic analysis and insights. While very useful to many couples at times during their marriage, often a couple finds that marital counseling does not produce results, despite the skill of the marriage counselor or the integrity of the process. Mediation to Stay Married is a practical method that relies on dispute resolution techniques. If performed by an attorney, the couple can be assisted by legal-based knowledge and options, from which the couple may benefit. Mediators with other backgrounds (mental health, employment, etc.) will bring their special skills and training to the process. The benefit of Mediation to Stay Married is that it can sometimes help people move forward to the next step in their marriage.

marital mediation

Why see a Marital Mediator rather than a Divorce Mediator?

People often “jump the gun” when they are having marital problems. Their minds immediately go to the idea of divorce, because they see and know of no other option. Mediation to Stay Married (also known as “Marital Mediation”) helps a couple envision a positive future and possible result for them if they stay together and have a (potentially) happy marriage, rather than proceeding to a divorce. It’s a matter of “envisioning” the possibility. What people often don’t know is that marriage skills can be taught and learned. The difference between a marriage that lasts and one that breaks down is generally the success of this learning process.

Why see a lawyer/mediator for Mediation to Stay Married?

People often “jump the gun” when they are having marital problems. Their minds
immediately go to the idea of divorce, because they see and know of no other option. Mediation to Stay Married (also known as “Marital Mediation”) helps a couple envision a positive future and possible result for them if they stay together and have a (potentially) happy marriage, rather than proceeding to a divorce. It’s a matter of “envisioning” the possibility. What people often don’t know is that marriage skills can be taught and learned. The difference between a marriage that lasts and one that breaks down is generally the success of this learning process.

Matt-and-Karen2smallWhy see a lawyer/mediator for Mediation to Stay Married?

Many marital problems (especially in more “mature” marriages) flow from financial disputes and insecurities. Mediators who are practicing attorneys are often in a good position to analyze finances, understand legal options, and assist the couple in finding concrete solutions about their financial problems. It may be helpful to use a lawyer/ mediator who has knowledge in the following areas: divorce, tax law, estate planning, business law, or a combination of these.

What is Mediation to Stay Married?

How personal health is the foundation for marital health?Mediation to Stay Married (also known as Marital Mediation and Marriage Mediation) is a method of helping couples who are experiencing marital problems and who would prefer to stay together rather than get divorced.

 

Is it helpful to see a mediator for Mediation to Stay Married who is a mental health professional?

Yes. Mediators who are psychotherapists and counselors can be extremely helpful in assisting couples in distress. For Mediation to Stay Married, it is preferable that the mediator be experienced in divorce mediation. Often a couple will see a mediator at the same time they are seeing a couples’ counselor or are seeing a therapist individually. It is good to use as many techniques as are effective. Couples can also receive help from mediators who are not attorneys or mental health professionals when experiencing marital problems.

Will the mediation process teach us new ways to relate to each other?

Yes. Many couples in divorce mediation have said that if they had known what they learned about conflict resolution in their divorce mediation while they were married, they would not have needed to get divorced. As Mediation to Stay Married progresses, the couple learns to use new techniques to address conflict in their own marriage. They will have another tool in their “marital toolbox” as they go forward.

marriage mediationDoes Mediation to Stay Married result in a written agreement?

Not always. Some couples would like a written memorialization (i.e., Postnuptial Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding) of what they have agreed to in Mediation to Stay Married. This can be a template for them while going forward in their marriage. Some couples feel that the verbal understanding is enough and that a written agreement would be too intrusive.

Is a Postnuptial Agreement legally valid and binding in the future?

The legal status of Postnuptial Agreements is somewhat unclear, and depends on what state you live in. In Massachusetts, it is likely that under the correct facts and circumstances, a properly conceived and fairly written Postnuptial Agreement (like a prenuptial agreement) can be valid in case of a divorce. More importantly, the Agreement can set the couple on a path towards reconciliation and clarity over issues that are troubling them and can help prevent divorce.

What types of issues can be dealt with in Mediation to Stay Married?

Many marriages (especially more lengthy marriages) fail due to financial problems and concerns. Issues of contribution (monetary and otherwise) have a huge impact on the viability and happiness of marriages. A job loss or a bankruptcy can make a couple distrustful of each other, to the point at which the marriage is at risk. Or, an inheritance can be imminent at a time when a marriage is experiencing problems. Mediation to Stay Married can also be used to heal a marriage in the case of infidelity and problems with children. It is also extremely helpful to address the “garden variety” conflict that arises from time to time in all marriages.

What other kinds of problems lend themselves to Mediation to Stay Married?

A couple may have gotten married without entering into a Prenuptial Agreement in a case where that type of agreement might have been very useful, such as a marriage where one or both of the parties have children from a previous marriage. A couple may have different spending habits and styles which are making them very angry at each other. Or one of the spouses may be an entrepreneurial risk-taker, while the other may be more financially conservative. A couple may be driven apart by a renovation or job losses. Couples with these and other financially-based fact patterns can sometimes be greatly helped by Mediation to Stay Married.

Is it sometimes helpful for a married couple in trouble to get information about divorce?

Yes. Often people are completely unrealistic about divorce and what life after a divorce will be like. There are two areas of confusion – one is that a divorce will solve their problems. The other misconception is what the financial result of a divorce will be. Most divorcing couples have a highly unrealistic view on what life will be post-divorce based on totally false facts. A reality check can be very helpful before a couple makes irrevocable steps to divorce.

For more articles written by Laurie Israel, visit www.ivkdlaw.com