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Mediation, The Sensible Approach

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How is Mediation Like a Jigsaw Puzzle or Launching a Ship?

How is Mediation Like a Jigsaw Puzzle or Launching a Ship? by Ada Hasloecher{3:54 minutes to read} During my initial consultation, when I meet a couple for the first time, I think it’s important to put some context to the mediation process before they decide whether mediation is appropriate for them. So in addition to describing the process, distinguishing mediation from litigation and laying out the general topics and issues we will be working on together, I often offer two analogies to illustrate a way of thinking about how we will be accomplishing our goals:

Mediation Like a Jigsaw Puzzle

Imagine a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, unopened. In mediation, we’ll be opening the box together, pouring all the pieces of the puzzle onto the table, turning them all right side up to see what’s what and then begin sorting them by shape and category.

The first thing we do is lay down the framework. This means selecting the flat-edge pieces that comprise the frame and constructing the edges of the picture to set boundaries on what will ultimately emerge as the finished product. In mediation, we start by naming the range of topics that will be discussed and ultimately resolved during the process.

Once we create the frame, over a period of time we start popping the various pieces of the puzzle in place to create portions of what will be the final result:

  • Children
  • Marital Home
  • Equitable Distribution of Assets and Debts
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Wills, etc.

As with every jigsaw puzzle, each piece is multi-sided, and often you can’t fully complete one section until several pieces come together at the same time. The same is true with a mediation – each topic has multiple aspects, therefore, we sometimes can’t complete the parenting plan, for example, until we determine the housing situation and location of each parent. There may be a doubling back, or a temporary suspension of one topic until we get a clearer picture of another section before any final conclusions can be reached. Ultimately the full picture emerges.

Mediation Like Launching a Ship

The second analogy illustrates another way of thinking about the work we do in mediation. Consider the time before a ship is launched. It is in dry dock, which is the time to batten down the hatches and plug up any holes before setting sail. While you can certainly handle emergencies when you’re 60 miles offshore, it’s easier to deal with any impending issues now rather than when the ship is taking on water.

Same thing with mediation. Although couples can always amend and modify their agreement even after the divorce decree is issued, it’s easier to think about and consider all the potential eventualities now, when there is no impending emergency and minds are as clear and as relaxed as they can be rather than trying to “plug holes” in crisis mode.

Whether constructing a jigsaw puzzle, launching a ship, or mediating a divorce, careful planning, discussion and problem solving will lead to a completed picture and smooth sailing as you move ahead with your separate lives.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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