During a mediation session, it not unusual for a mediator to split the spouses and meet with each spouse separately, provided each spouse agrees to this arrangement. Speaking separately with each spouse helps the mediator better understand each spouse’s separate concerns, worries, and goals. Spouses often have their guard up in the presence of other spouse, and separate meetings between each spouse and the mediator allows the mediator to aid each spouse in communicating in a manner that facilitates cooperation instead of conflict.
It is important, however, to address the elephant in the room when it comes to individual meetings during the divorce mediation process: The core value of a good mediator is their neutrality. Good mediators do not use individual meetings to favor one spouse over the other or to provide important information to one, but not the other spouse. Because it is precisely this neutrality that makes mediation such a good tool for resolving a divorce, successful mediators take impartiality extremely seriously, and do not put their neutrality into jeopardy.
Because maintaining impartiality is paramount, many mediators will limit their individual meetings with a spouse to scheduled mediation sessions where each spouse is physically present in an adjoining room. While couples sometimes agree that each spouse may meet with the mediator on his or her own, outside of the context of a scheduled session, these arrangements must be handled carefully to ensure that each spouse maintains trust in the process.