Keep calm and ListenMany people believe that a divorce mediator will resolve the issues that are stalling their Illinois divorce process. However, successful divorce mediation results from the commitment and involvement of the parties involved in the divorce, not the mediator alone.

A recent article by Sandra Crawford in the Illinois State Bar Association Newsletter entitled Mediation, meditation—Let’s pause for more peaceful outcomes approaches mediation from a different perspective. Crawford discusses how meditation practices–specifically what she calls “the power of the pause”–can help parties reach the agreements they seek in the mediation process.


Crawford describes how the pause technique can help parties to better address issues in a mediation setting, stating:

“Far too often in the litigation process (be it pre-trial conferences, depositions, hearings) there is little room left for ‘the pause.’ When a lull in conversation comes in that venue it is typically instantly filled in by an opponent without acknowledging what the other person has just said. Even sometimes in court hearings the lawyers and judges are talking over one another and not pausing sufficiently to allow for adequate listening or reflection back so that deeper understandings might flourish.”

She goes on to remind us that it’s actually the parties involved in the mediation, not the mediator, who are responsible for the ultimate outcomes. The mediator’s job is to give those parties the time and space needed to work through the problems and get to resolution.

A good mediator, says Crawford, will protect “the pause” and not be intimidated by silence or need to instantly fill up that silence with discussion. This allows the parties to “take a pause, take the time to reflect back on what they are hearing, and to add clarification if what someone is reflecting back is imprecise, inadequate or incorrect.”


Mediators who are even somewhat skilled in meditation practices can often better hear what is being said because they have set aside the need to be right in favor of generating “better problem solving and more sustainable outcomes and resolutions of legal disputes in the long run.”

According to Crawford, this allows a mediator to really be of value to clients by helping to move them out of conflict and into resolution–which is the reason people come to divorce mediation or child custody mediation in the first place.

Regardless of the mediation techniques to be used, it’s important for mediators and clients to discuss how the process will work so everyone is clear on behavioral boundaries and what is ultimately at stake.

If you feel that mediation could help resolve your divorce or custody issues, contact me to learn how I can help.


Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.