Cortisol and Divorce Litigation

Google "Cortisol" and you will find article after article about this "stress hormone."  

Here is a link to a 2013 article from Psychology Today that labels Cortisol "public enemy #1." It's an interesting commentary. 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

I've been a litigator for about twenty years. I have seen the negative emotional effects of  long acrimonious divorce proceedings on the strongest of souls (not to mention the financial cost of protracted litigation).  Some cases are unable to settle and must be tried.  And, there are others that can only settle (it seems) after extensive discovery.  

But, it appears to me that there are many more cases that could be negotiated and brought to a fair, equitable and mutually acceptable settlement through Divorce Mediation.   

Divorce Mediation is not a magic wand.  It's a process whereby the Mediator, as a facilitator, helps the parties find common ground.  It may take several session.  The Mediator does this by remembering that nature provided us two ears but only one mouth.  That is, he facilitates the parties in speaking and then promotes discussion.  Those are often two separate things.   Allow me to explain.

Often the first thing that a Mediator may seek to do is to get the parties speaking.  That may take the form of accusation, blame, or even shouting.  While this is going on, the Mediator listens.  In litigation, the advocates may be taking up their client's adversarial positions and promoting them  at this point - bring on the Cortisol.  In mediation, the Mediator listens.  While listening the Mediator can hear what is important to each party, and can "hear" what is frustrating to one or the other of them (often by tone of voice or body language).    While they are at odds with one another, at least they are speaking -- and providing the Mediator with information. 

The Mediator can then either steer the conversation to one point or another, so that a discussion on that point can ensue. Acknowledging fear or frustration can go a long way here, as can pointing out that both parties have issue "X" on their list of priorities.  These techniques can set the stage for the parties engaging one another - rather than indulging their fear and anxiety - and actually moving forward in a positive and less stressful way by separating out the issues and dealing with them in an orderly fashion, finding commonality, and/or addressing anxiety. 

Mediation recognizes the stress of divorce, that there are often physiological effects from stress, and tries to influence the process toward resolution, rather than to continue the rise of the conflict, the contest and the Cortisol. 

If you have a Divorce matter you would like to discuss with me, please contact me at 978-877-5159. 

John G. DiPiano

 

 

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