Marital Mediation (also known as "marriage mediation" and "mediation to stay married") is an emerging and exciting area of mediation that gives couples practical tools in how to save a marriage from divorce. It addresses couples who are having problems, but who wish to stay married. These are people whose first choice is to have a marital reconciliation where their marriage is improved and repaired.
Many divorce mediators have asked themselves if they could have helped a divorcing couple through mediation a year or two earlier, when the couple was struggling but was not yet giving up on their marriage. These are couples who are asking the question "how do I save my marriage and how do I avoid a divorce."
Marriage mediation could be right for you if:
- you are interesed in avoiding divorce;
- you are having marital problems;
- you are committed to each other and want to stay married;
- you wish to reconcile but are struggling with issues that they cannot seem to resolve.
In a series of marital mediation sessions, the couples identify their presenting issues. The neutral marriage mediator listens, observes their interactions, and provides input. Marriage mediators can see patterns of misunderstandings, miscommunication, and assumptions between the couples that the couple themselves cannot see. In an open and honest way, the marriage mediator uses these observations to work with the couple and help them improve their communications.
- Avoiding Divorce
- Marriage Reconciliation
- Marriage Mediation vs. Marital Counseling
- Postnuptial Agreements
Avoiding Divorce: About 50% of first marriages end in divorce, and over 60% of second marriages. Even with these statistics, a good marriage is greatly valued, creating family, good mental and physical health, a history of shared memories, and financial stability.
There are many methods of attempting to avoid a divorce. Marital problems can be addressed by:
- marital counseling,
- marital therapy,
- individual therapy,
- pastoral counseling,
- help from friends and relatives,
- reading books on marriage,
- visiting websites,
- and going to marriage improvement seminars.
All these are useful to help answer the question “how to save my marriage” and to set the stage to permit marriage reconciliation to occur. Marital Mediation (also known as “Mediation to Stay Married”) is a relatively new method to help people improve their marriage and avoid divorce. It uses mediation techniques in a series of meetings with the marital couple and a family mediator experienced in helping couples. Because it is not marital counseling, it is often a more acceptable way to address problems by one or both of the couple. In addition, it is often effective with couples in cases where other methods have not helped.
Marriage Reconciliation: 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 will bring their special skills, training, and experience to the process. The benefit of marriage mediation is that it can sometimes help people move forward to the next step in their marriage.
Marriage Mediation vs. 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 the results they want, despite the skill of the marriage counselor or the integrity of the process.
Marital mediation is a practical method that relies on dispute resolution techniques. It is short-term and does not attempt to go deeply into family and personal issues. It is practical, and can often help the couple go forward in their marriage. The couple can address deeper issues, if they wish to, in the future.
Often, after marital mediation, deeper issues and conflicts start to resolve, almost by themselves. The couple is more accepting, and has a more realistic view of what marriage is. Marital mediation can be transformative for the couple.The benefit of marital mediation is not that it can or will solve everything, but that it can often help people move forward to the next step in their marriage.
Postnuptial Agreements v. Verbal Agreements: Postnuptial agreements (also known as postmarital agreements) are written agreements made between spouses during their marriage. The aim of a postnuptial agreement is generally to address problems in the marriage that are causing it to suffer. The parties negotiating a postnuptial agreement want to continue their marriage, and are intending that their agreement will help, not hurt, their marriage. Their intent is to create marital harmony and avoid divorce. Postnuptial agreements range from “who will take out the garbage” to the provisions they wish to put into place if their marriage does end in divorce, and the entire range in between. Because it is an agreement made after the marriage, it is called a postnuptial agreement.
Postnuptial agreements are a relatively new area of law. Enforceability issues are still being addressed on a state-by-state basis. The soundness of postnuptial agreements relies on the good faith and fair dealing of each of the parties. If a party wants to use the postmarital agreement for his or her advantage in a divorce, it might not be an appropriate vehicle for a couple.
It is likely that under the correct facts and circumstances, a properly conceived and fairly written postnuptial agreement can be valid in case of a divorce. More importantly, a postnuptial agreement can set the couple on a path towards reconciliation and clarity over issues that are troubling them and can help prevent divorce.
Negotiating a postnuptial agreement is just as sensitive (or more so) as negotiating a prenuptial agreement. The terms of a postnuptial agreement should be to be customized to each couple to address their specific concerns. Mediation is an optimal way for a couple to self-determine the terms of their postmarital agreement. Your marital mediator can guide you through the elements required and can assess your readiness to undertake these written commitments.
Some couples in marital mediation may prefer not to have a written agreement. They value the verbal understandings gained in the marital mediation process, it is enough for them, and they see a written agreement as being too intrusive to their personal relationship. Marital mediation can accommodate both preferences.