May 20, 2014

Keeping Mediation Costs Down: Part I

I always look forward to speaking with potential clients during a free 15 minute phone consultation.  I enjoy having a bit of my workday that is not billed, that is available to anyone who would like 15 minutes of my time and my professional mind.  It is an opportunity for me to share the wealth of information in my head about how to approach getting a divorce.  To me, divorce is not a crisis, but rather a situation to approach from many different angles—emotional, fiscal, and legal.  I enjoy taking a few moments to speak with people having a tough time and support them with information and a view of things that keeps coming back to, “You can make it through this.”

One of the most asked questions during a free 15 minute phone consultation is, understandably, “How much will our mediation cost?”  My reply is always the same, “I have no idea, but the cost is driven by two things: you and your spouse’s personalities and the complexity of your financial and legal situation.”  When people ask me what personality has to do with the cost of mediation I have a few stories to quickly illustrate that notion during a phone call, but there is a further depth I do not have time to share in a 15 minute phone consultation that I would like to share with you now about how clients’ behavior directly affects cost.

There are quite a few behaviors people can avoid to dramatically lower the cost of mediation:

    • Arguing over the vacuum cleaner or the Kiss CD
    • Refusing to have necessary and difficult conversations
    • Endless email streams
    • Long and frequent phone calls
    • Being locked into position and refusing to budge
    • Attaching to one particular outcome
    • Badgering your spouse/partner
    • Putting your children in the middle
    • Failing to use mediation techniques outside of mediation
    • Withholding pertinent information
    • Failing to follow through on agreements
    • Taking one-sided actions
    • Making long-winded explanations
    • Talking more than listening
    • Bringing invisible auxiliary advisors into the room
    • Accusations, blaming, and “You” statements
    • Complaining
    • Speaking for the other rather than yourself
    • Rescheduling meetings
    • Not completing tasks by the deadline date
    • Coming to a meeting under the influence or actively abusing substances during your divorce
    • Not taking care of your personal health, physically and mentally
    • Not asking for help when you are confused
    • Saying “Yes” when you mean “No”
    • Being unrealistic about your budget/cash flow
    • Misunderstanding your financial report
    • Being unprepared

Thank you to the Collaborative Divorce Institute for creating the above check list.  They titled it: Cost Inflators List.

Unmani is exceptionally gifted at mediating difficult situations.

Unmani is exceptionally gifted at mediating difficult situations.  At critical moments when the dialogues seemed about to derail, Unmani masterfully steered us back on course.  Her calming influence, insights on the legal requirements, and laser focus on the relevant issues very positively influenced the outcome of our divorce settlement and subsequent mediation qualitatively and quantitatively.  In fact, my ex-wife and I would not have the solid, congenial co-parenting relationship we have today without key conversations—including very difficult ones—we had only because it was safe to have them with Unmani present.

- Damian R.
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