When post-divorce couples come back to mediation, it is often to modify child support because of a change in the parents’ income and/or the parenting plan, or because children’s needs change over time. Child support was based on previous earnings that may be very different now. The parents may have created a parenting plan that worked initially, but now after some time has passed, is no longer working. Whatever the reason, the agreement needs to be modified.
That’s not very difficult in mediation. However, there are some couples who just can’t agree. We completed the settlement agreement, and that’s all behind us. It was a difficult process because both of them were anxious to get divorced, but now they are divorced, and at least one of them is still unhappy.
Sometimes these couples are defined as high-conflict couples. In other words, they keep coming back. Every time a current issue is resolved, a few months later they’re back with something else.
Although mediation helps in resolving disputes, it isn’t always a dispute that is the problem. Sometimes it can be a lack of communication. In those cases, I try to refer couples to counseling. A couples therapist is an expert on helping them to communicate and try to work together for the good of the children. That might be just what the doctor ordered.
Conflict isn’t always just about not agreeing. It is sometimes an inability to effectively communicate feelings and concerns. Therapists can be a valuable asset, because they can help ex-spouses get the tools they need to be able to communicate with each other.