Divorce Mediation and Marriage Closure Therapy

Published: 02nd February 2012
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A recent article published by Susan Bulfinch at Mediate.com focused on educating mediators to the benefits of “Marriage Closure Therapy” [MCT]. We at Liaise applaud and support this effort to increase the interface between mediators and family counselors whenever needed. My only criticism of the article is that it should be published in a journal aimed at California and San Francisco Divorce attorneys. All professionals assisting people going through divorce should be fully cognizant of the need for specialized therapy at the end of a marriage.

Ms. Bulfinch refers to Marriage Closure Therapy as a “therapeutic intervention that assists couples in their personal transition pre and post divorce”. The article opines that people going through divorce should be referred to MCT when “they are having a hard time 1) coming to any separation or divorce agreement; 2) have deep resentments; 3) where one partner does not want the divorce; 4) when both spouses are very sad; 5) where spouses are angry and that anger is tugging at the child or children; or, 6) both spouses are ambivalent about the divorce.”

At Liaise we strive to identify these conditions in any and all of our customers. We freely commence a dialog to ascertain if the parties have medical insurance that will pay for therapy and urge both parties to any dissolution we are mediating to take some time to meet with a mental health professional.

Many times a couple will present in our offices for a consultation on the “big picture” of marital dissolution and how it can be most effectively achieved. When, after the mediator’s discourse, they are asked if there are any questions, one of them will kind of shrug and say words to the effect, “whatever she [or he] wants”. Clearly, this individual is, at this stage, “along for the ride” and not motivated in the mediation process.

It is true that California, as a “no-fault” dissolution state, only requires one member of the marriage to declare that irreconcilable differences have arisen causing the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. This fact means that the dissolution cannot be stopped and the less motivated party needs to come to grips with their new reality and actively negotiate the most favorable dissolution possible.

It has been our experience, here at Liaise, that a thoughtful mediation process does wonders in making both parties take a considered look at the procedure and begin a purposeful participation that vests both sides in the creation of a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement. However, Liaise mediators are trained that where they perceive a situation where one party shows any reluctance to fully engage in the mediation process they should purposefully recommend counseling.

With an insightful mediator and proper counseling what may have started with one side merely going through the motions as a passive participant rapidly develops into a dialog where Husband and Wife engage in a give and take that results in an Agreement that each rightfully feels as if they had a hand in creating. This creates a more enduring Agreement and well earned feeling of self-direction in the dissolution process.

At counseling we make it clear to our clients that we are not therapists, but we are great advocates for professional therapy. Even parties who don’t think they need therapy are urged to start a conversation with a counselor and avail themselves of the insights and advice that can be received from a pro that has seen helped many people through the divorce process.

Top divorce lawyers: David D. Stein has been an attorney for over 20 years and is the founder of Liaise® Divorce Solutions [http://www.LiaiseDivorce.com]. He is a lawyer, expert divorce mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.

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