Is Your Mediation Practice Narrow Focused or Big Picture? by Don Sinkov{3:45 minutes to read} I recently had lunch with an attorney, and she asked me what my mediation practice was like.  I explained that I use a holistic approach. I’m very concerned with how well the decisions the couple makes in mediation will work in the end. For example, will they have enough money to support themselves, have a reasonable lifestyle and be able to live up to the terms in their agreement.

I further explained that in divorce, no one “wins” using mediation or litigating in court. Really? Maybe that’s not exactly true. Since mediation is really about working together and sometimes agreeing to a compromise, no one can declare themselves the winner. In court, if you beat up the other guy badly enough, maybe you would consider that a “win.” I don’t. 

I’ve experienced both extremes when agreeing on the terms of a divorce agreement. On one end is someone who says, “What is the least amount I have to pay?” On the other end, “I don’t care how much I have to pay. I’ll make it work somehow.” Unfortunately, the terms they have agreed to may be way too generous, and they won’t be able to afford to pay what it is they’re agreeing to. It’s very important that I help them look at the big picture and how can I help them get there while still allowing them to make the decisions about their future.

For example:

The husband and wife own a home.  So what should they do about dividing this asset?

The Narrow Focus

It’s a marital asset and gets divided in half.  They will have to sell the house and divide the proceeds equally.

The Big Picture Focus

Let’s examine the different ways of dividing the marital interest in this asset:

  • Sell the house and divide the proceeds equally.
  • One spouse buys out the other’s interest in the house.
  • One spouse assumes the current mortgage and does a structured buy-out of the other spouse’s interest.
  • One spouse refinances the house and rolls the buy-out price into the new mortgage.

Other considerations may be:

  • Have you tried to get the mortgage?
  • What will the payments be?
  • Is this something you can really afford?

In mediation with a Big Picture Focus, we discuss:

  • What you want to do
  • The best way to accomplish that
  • Running the numbers to see if you can realistically do what you want to do

Having a narrow focus when looking at broad problems only allows you to see what is directly in front of you. The big picture focus allows you to be open to different ways to problem solve and consider the effects your decisions will have.

Narrow focus is like tunnel vision, so remember, like the train conductor once said, “Beware. The light at the end of the tunnel could be an approaching train.”

About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: