from The Huffington Post, published 03/05/2016
Elizabeth Esrey Mediator, Conflict Resolution Specialist and Coach
1. High Conflict Divorce is expensive.
The cost of litigating divorce has always been high even with cheaper alternatives, such as mediation and collaborative law, on the rise. Still, litigating a high conflict divorce is expensive. According to an Associated Press article, the costs of divorce varies depending the process you use. Mediation is the least expensive option, at a typical cost of $6,600. Collaborative law costs average $19,723 while full-scale divorce litigation average, $77,746.
2. High Conflict Divorce is more susceptible to violence.
It’s sad but true. Family courts pit couples against each other – especially in high conflict divorce cases. There have even been documented casualties. Earlier this year in Delaware a mother of three, as well as her friend, were shot and killed inside the courthouse as they were arriving at for a child-support hearing. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/25/delaware-courthouse-shooting-family/1945261/
In October 2011, eight people were killed when a man opened fire in the hair salon where his ex-wife worked. The two were involved in a difficult, ongoing custody battle.
Divorce litigation can be so stressful a family law judge in West Virginia found himself in hot water after a screaming rampage aimed at a party. The court video which begins with a ‘Viewer Discretion is Advised’ warning from YouTube, shows the judge screaming at the husband so loudly that the audio starts to cut out.
3. High Conflict Divorce is best handled like Hostage Negotiations.
Lt. Jack Cambria, a chief hostage negotiator for NYPD’s elite hostage negotiation team, gave a talk entitled “Lessons on Conflict Resolution from an NYPD Hostage Negotiator,” to The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation. It cited many similarities between High Conflict Divorce and Hostage Negotiation. Essentially, both need to be able to stay calm while setting an appropriate pace for negotiations. A hostage negotiator and divorce mediator need to treat people with respect (yes, this is from the hostage negotiator) and use active listening skills. Finally, the hostage negotiator, like the divorce mediator, should never give up!
4. High Conflict Divorce is better served through Mediation.
To avoid the drama and cost of divorce litigation, more people are using healthier methods to resolve high conflict divorce. With mediation, divorcing couples manage their divorce through peaceful conversation. Judges and lawyers typically don’t deal with the emotional aspects of divorce. Mediators help couples navigate the divorce process and reach agreements that are less expensive, more lasting and customized. Legal and non-legal issues can be resolved in mediation. Mediators can deal with the emotional aspects of divorce to avoid heightened conflict. The goal of mediation is to procure a long- lasting, customized, peaceful and private resolution to divorce and life after divorce.
5. High Conflict Divorce is a choice.
As ½ of a divorce, you get to decide if you are going to engage in a high conflict divorce or not. If you refuse to “lawyer up” and get nasty about the divorce, you aren’t likely to have a high conflict divorce. If you choose to “lawyer up” and litigate then, you are more likely to have a high conflict divorce. By choosing mediation over litigation, you model dignity and privacy in your divorce. Even in “high conflict” divorces you can be heard, respected and resolute in avoiding the cost and dehumanization of high conflict divorce litigation.