Moving beyond Fear through Divorce Mediation

By: Hon. Michele Lowrance
Last Update: October 29, 2016

Many divorcing people are prone to high conflict and would prefer to settle their issues amicably, but can’t figure out how to do so because they always perceive the conflict as being the other side’s fault. In divorce mediation, the mediator can help explain how the conflict or discussion ended up in such a difficult place. When I mediate a high-conflict divorce, I often explain to both parties that they are experiencing a complete cortisol flood – that they are being commanded and controlled by their bad chemicals. I explain that for years they’ve both been operating out of fear and panic, before asking whether there’s a chance that they can operate on a different level during our mediation session. After all, how well can that fear and panic be working out for someone who has spent two million in divorce fees and whose children are all in therapy? I ask these high-conflict spouses whether they are willing to commit to the process if I commit to helping them look at their situation from a new perspective so they can leave behind the people they have become in their compromised state.

Contrary to popular belief, mediation can be successful in resolving a variety of high-conflict-divorce scenarios – even those in which the parties are unable to act civilly toward each other. Choosing divorce mediation as an alternative to traditional litigation can save both parties a great deal of stress and opens the lines of communication – which can contribute to a more amicable resolution, even in high-conflict cases.


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