One victim of this process, called shuttle mediation, described her experience as such:
“My husband and I were kept in separate rooms, each with our attorney, and the mediator ran back and forth with proposals. We never saw or talked to each other during those hours even though we were still living in the same home. We got very little accomplished and when we arrived home (we had driven together to the mediation) we looked at each other, thinking, ‘What the hell just happened?’ It was a complete waste of money and time. At that point we sat down and resolved our remaining issues.”
Too often I hear Knoxville divorce attorneys insist on shuttle mediation. This keeps control of the process in the hands of the attorneys and the mediator, and keeps the mediating parties on the fringe and in the dark while they attempt to make decisions about the most important aspects of their lives – their children, their home, their financial future.
So before you allow your attorney to book a mediator, a person who you will be paying for, ask what style of mediation this person employs. And as unpleasant as it may seem, consider insisting that your mediator use a facilitative style, especially if you have children. Joint sessions allow you and your spouse to be in the same room and provide an opportunity to practice communication skills that can help you avoid future conflict and create a strong co-parenting relationship that will benefit your children (and you!) for years to come.
Elizabeth Cooper, PhD
Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator