« news & media


Divorce Mediation | Beyond Impasse

Divorce mediation is designed to be an outlet for couples to resolve issues they cannot seem to get beyond when going through a divorce. This challenge is commonly called an impasse. One of the reasons that couples choose divorce mediation is because they both want to come to a reasonable agreement. They just don’t know how to do that on their own.

Getting beyond impasse can be as much of a struggle in divorce mediation as the problems that already existed during the marriage. When it comes to communication, it is easy to fall back into the usual, counterproductive patterns that impede the divorce mediation process.

But the fact that a couple is willing to go to divorce mediation is a good first step in working through an impasse. If the willingness is there, then there is hope for some resolution. It just requires working through the obstacles that are holding each person back.

There are some tried-and-true strategies to help couples when they get stuck. In a recent online article, New York psychologist Kristin Davin, Psy.D. cites these five questions to consider if you are at an impasse in your divorce mediation. Here is what she has to say:

  •  If this issue were resolved to your individual benefit, what would that look like? This question helps couples identify specifically what they want in this situation—which may actually open the door to a compromise. That’s because they can each pinpoint the most important element(s) and begin to prioritize from there.
  • Why do you think you’re stuck on this point? A big part of this process is actually hearing the other person’s perspective, and sometimes the answer to this question has little to do with the problem at hand. Once the underlying issue is addressed, it’s easier to move on from this one.
  • Rate this issue on a scale of 1 to 10. Again, this is all about helping the couple really zero in on their priorities. I usually ask this at the beginning of negotiating an impasse and again later on. Often, the level of importance drops.
  • Is it possible to describe a time in the past when you were able to find a compromise?  Despite the divorce, all couples were once able to work through challenging issues at some time during their marriage. Thinking back on what worked then can be a resource now.
  • Can we temporarily table it? Sometimes, you just need time—and distance—to think about the problem in different ways. Time and distance has a way of providing clarity and a better direction. There might still be plenty of work to do once we revisit the issue, but we’ll be able to start from a new place.

At May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, we agree that these questions can help in the divorce mediation process. Our family law attorneys use similar strategies when assisting couples as they work through an impasse. Contact us for more information on how we can help you.

Find an

When you enlist the services of MPBG, you get an experienced, diverse team of advocates in your corner who work collaboratively, move quickly, and think differently.