Why Not Divorce Mediation by Caucus?
If you have heard about divorce mediation and divorce mediation by caucus, you could be a bit confused and unsure of what each term means. Learning about divorce mediation can be a good thing for many couples who are looking to get a divorce, but divorce mediation by caucus often is not the beset idea. Once you learn a little more about traditional divorce mediation and divorce mediation by caucus, you can get a better idea of which one will work best for your divorce.
What is Divorce Mediation?
First of all, you could be wondering what a traditional divorce mediation is. Basically, when you go through a traditional divorce mediation, you and your spouse will sit down with one another and with a neutral party who is there to assist you. This person is known as a mediator. The mediator is not supposed to pick sides between you and your spouse. Instead, he or she will simply bring up issues that need to be discussed, let you know a little more about the law and how things are traditionally handled and will let the two of you talk things out. This can help you and your spouse handle the various matters related to your divorce without actually having to go through a lengthy and often stressful divorce trial. For many couples, it is actually a good choice, although it does require you to be able to get along with one another and to talk through things for it to be truly effective.
What is Divorce Mediation by Caucus?
Divorce mediation by caucus is similar to standard divorce mediation, since it allows you to avoid going through a divorce trial. However, with divorce mediation by caucus, you and your spouse will not sit together with a mediator to talk things out. Instead, each of you will meet separately with the mediator while the other is not there. Then, the mediator will attempt to relay information and help you come to an agreement with one another without actually being in the same room at the same time.
What is Wrong with Divorce Mediation by Caucus?
Even though divorce mediation by caucus might sound like a good thing, since it could potentially allow you to enjoy the benefits of a divorce mediation without actually having to sit down and talk to one another, it often isn’t the best choice. For one thing, one of the best things about a divorce mediation is the fact that everything is very transparent, since you will talk about everything in front of one another. This transparency is no longer there with divorce mediation by caucus.
Additionally, it can be a lot more time-consuming. The mediator has to worry about going to twice as many meetings as with a standard divorce mediation. Then, he or she will have to meet with each of you to talk things out. This can be a lot less effective and a lot more time-consuming than if you were to all sit down together to discuss things. After all, one of the benefits of divorce mediation is the fact that it can help you get things handled faster than going through the traditional divorce trial process, but some of the speediness is taken away when you choose to go through divorce mediation by caucus.
When Can Divorce Mediation by Caucus Be a Good Thing?
Of course, divorce mediation by caucus is not always a bad thing. In some cases, the mediator might choose to meet with each spouse separately on one or two occasions, such as if the two of you are getting along fairly well but are having trouble coming to an agreement on a specific issue. It can also sometimes work out if you have different work schedules and aren’t always able to meet together at the same time. However, generally, meeting for a traditional divorce mediation is often a better choice for many couples, and you may find that it’s the better choice for your divorce as well.
Overall, even though divorce mediation can be a good alternative to going to a divorce trial, it is not always the best option. If you and your spouse will have to meet separately rather than meeting with a mediator together, as is usually the case, then you might find that it’s not the best choice for handling your divorce. Of course, every divorce and every couple are different, so you can always talk to a lawyer to determine if mediation by caucus is going to be the best choice. Then, your attorney can tell you more about divorce mediation by caucus and can help you decide if it’s the best option for handling your divorce or if there is another method that might be a better decision for the two of you.
When it comes to divorce law, there are a variety of dispute resolution options, including negotiations, litigation and collaborative law. Mediation is among these options, too. If a couple decides to use mediation in order to handle and settle divorce issues, that means they want to deal with everything outside the courtroom. They will come together, along with a neutral party (the mediator), to work out their issues and figure out how to handle their divorce.
Alternative Type of Mediation
There is a certain style of mediation called mediation by caucus, or caucusing. This type of mediation requires separate meetings with the mediator for the parties (one for the husband and one for the wife, for example). These meetings are private – for example, the wife would not be present at the husband’s meeting.
It’s common for professionals to use caucusing a time or two during divorce proceedings, namely when there is a large issue at hand that needs to be dealt with. Other professionals, though, opt to use mediation by caucus throughout the entire process.
Problems with Mediation by Caucus
Professionals who utilize mediation by caucus may face problems:
• Since neither party knows what is happening in the other party’s meetings, it’s difficult to see the mediator as neutral ¬– one party may feel that the mediator is swaying toward one side instead of staying in the middle. This can lead to anger or paranoia.
• There is no more intimacy in the mediation and negotiations. The parties are not able to deal or work with each other, which is especially troublesome when it comes to disagreements. Instead of being able to directly speak with each other to hash the problem out, the mediator has to shuttle between the parties to deliver information and offer suggestions.
• By the end of this type of mediation, it’s common for one or both parties to still have lingering questions, and those questions may never be answered.
It may not be the best solution to have the mediator be the only person who has all of the information in the case. When this happens, it’s possible for one or both parties to feel left out or like they’re not being represented well or accurately.
Sometimes, one or both parties end up feeling like they no longer have control in the divorce decisions, because the mediator has all of the information and is relaying all of the information. This can leave some people feeling like they’ve been manipulated. It’s often better to air concerns and have discussions in an open setting, directly with one another instead of in private with a mediator.
Using Mediation by Caucus Sparingly
Instead of using mediation by caucus as a full-time strategy, some professionals opt to use it only sparingly. For example, if there is a situation where one or both parties are incredibly angry about something and they feel like they need to vent before they can move on to problem-solving, the professional may opt for caucusing so that the party can air their issues in private, and without it affecting the rest of the negotiations. However, even then, some professionals feel that caucusing isn’t transparent enough, and that it would still be better for high-conflict divorce issues to be dealt with in person.
The Benefit of Traditional Mediation
For most professionals, mediation is ultimately about remaining neutral. The mediator is able to give the client a safe, neutral space where they can connect with the other party and know that their concerns are being heard. As soon as one party feels any sort of bias from the mediator, that air of neutrality is gone, which makes it extremely difficult for either spouse to trust the mediator and move forward.
Mediation can be highly effective if both spouses feel that they’re getting the same type of attention and level of interaction from the mediator, and that the mediator is always remaining neutral. Yes, it’s definitely possible for the mediator to give clients equal time during caucusing, but the privacy of the meetings can make one or both parties feel that the meetings are secretive and suspicious, and it could leave one of them feeling like they’ve been cheated out of something they want or deserve.
The point of mediation is to prevent or resolve conflict. Caucus mediation can pose issues that are just added to the list of problems and concerns the spouses have, and it becomes another issue that needs to be dealt with (if it even can be).
It’s important to keep in mind the main goals of mediation: to collaborate in a joint situation where each party can clearly represent themselves, and where a mediator remains neutral, guiding the clients so that they can come to peaceful decisions. Since it’s not possible to know what happens behind closed doors in private meetings, caucus mediation can go against the basic principles of mediation. The point isn’t to prevent mutual agreements but instead to remove any barriers to getting to them.
Help With Divorce Law
If you are going through a divorce, contact the experts at the Spodek Law Group, your Long Island divorce lawyers. We can discuss mediation options with you, as well as other divorce services. Feel free to come in for a consultation, either alone or with your spouse.