What is Mediation?
“Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process. Mediation is a “party-centered” process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The Mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution.” Wikipedia
What is Co-Mediation?
“Co-mediation is a Mediation involving multiple Mediators, usually two, who in some way may complement each other by gender, personality, culture, professional background or other ways in a manner that can improve the quality of both the Mediation process and its outcome.” Mediate.com
How and when might Co-Mediation be a good option in a divorce case?
As a Divorce Mediator, I particularly find it helpful to involve a Co-Mediator when it would be useful to have another Mediator to assist with various aspects of the divorce. I am a lawyer who practices exclusively in Family Law where I handle parenting plans, support, and property division every day. In addition, I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology and have received a great deal of training in Mediation. However, I welcome Mediators with various backgrounds/specialties.
Co-Mediation is especially appropriate when there is a challenge which can be more easily addressed by Co-Mediators working together, combining their expertise and resources, to help the clients develop and explore options that attend to these specific needs.
There are some cases where the parties’ communication needs work, is extremely poor, or non-existent. Also, there may be a case where one or both parties have some mental health challenges. Particularly when a case where the parties’ child has some mental health or developmental issues, I have found it serves the clients to work with a Co-Mediator with a significant amount of mental health and child development training and experience.
In some cases, the parties have a high net worth/financial portfolio that involves business interests, executive compensation beyond salary and basic retirement, multiple investments, etc. There may need to be some financial planning for a child through a Special Needs Trust. In such a case, a Co-Mediator divorce financial specialist can assist the parties with gathering and organizing financial documentation, projecting budgets for each party and the children, and using knowledge about taxes and business ventures in assisting the parties with developing options for settlement of these issues.
If a Mediator suggests Co-Mediation to the parties, it is should be considered. In general, helping divorcing parties’ reach a settlement can be quite challenging to all involved. It can be useful to have two Co-Mediators working as a team, allocating certain tasks, collaborating when there are some obstacles to making progress, and providing balance to what could otherwise be imbalance between the parties.