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Breaking Up is Harder to Do When there’s Cultural Stigma, But Mediation Can Help

Part II of a Series on International and Inter-cultural Divorce Mediation

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.

Divorce is difficult at the best of times, but if you or your partner adheres to a strict religious or cultural tradition, it can be especially sensitive. Since divorce involves splitting a shared life, going your separate ways may mean a complete break from tradition. This can be particularly wrenching if you have kids. A recent NYT article detailed a well-publicized case about a woman who lost (then regained) custody of her children in a Jewish religious divorce. In this particular case, the woman had made an agreement with her husband to raise her children in a religious setting and broke the agreement. Traditions come in all shapes and sizes, and mediation works to identify differing values to find a resolution that accommodates all parties. You may also find yourself facing resistance if you want to raise a child in a religious setting but your partner is non-religious. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we often work with international clients or clients from diverse cultures and traditions. In our practice we use proven approaches like game theory to discover conflicting interests and work with couples in a way that all parties can trust.

If you Feel Disempowered in Divorce, Mediation Can Empower You

Facing into divorce when there is cultural stigma can feel like carrying the weight of the world. What seems impossible can be made possible when you can get to the negotiating table.

If you’re facing into any of the following situations, mediation can empower you to have an equitable divorce:

Does it seem impossible to get a divorce? If your marital tradition stigmatizes divorce there may be issues with getting a divorce in the first place. You may be worried that in breaking with your community you will lose everything, or that you won’t be able to get your divorcing partner to co-operate. If you can raise these issues in a neutral setting, it’s possible to carve out a space to make change. The mediator is a neutral third party, so your partner can feel reassured that both of your interests will be taken into account. Mediation is a space where you can feel free of the cultural burdens that would prevent you speaking honestly if you were negotiating with your community leaders. However if you need to refine agreements made with community religious leaders, mediation can be a complement to this. We also offer marital mediation, so you may be able to negotiate your marital issues with a third party, and suggest separation as an option if you can’t resolve your problems.

Are you worried about how your children will be raised? Whether you’re worried about your children being raised in a strict cultural tradition or worried traditions won’t be respected, you can come to an agreement in mediation. This agreement can cover everything from afterschool activities, to religious traditions and rites of passage, to education, to exceptions, holidays (ie what happens when children spend holiday time with the other parent). Your parenting agreement may need extra care if your children are going to be raised in two radically different traditions (such as one parent who is religious and another who is LGBTQ).

Are you facing into relocation with your kids? Physical distance can also be an issue when your divorce takes place in a religious or cultural tradition. If you are relocating and moving to another country or state, or perhaps your partner is taking the kids out of a US school to be raised in their country of origin, you will need to negotiate carefully to preserve as much stability as possible for your children. Continuity is in children’s best interests, however life is complex. We draft international parenting plans that are nuanced and tailored to each situation with the greatest sensitivity possible (this should also include clear discussions about how to bear the financial burden of travel and education).

How We Can Help

At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we are caring, well-educated mediators who bring applied financial mathematics, the law, psychoanalysis, and game theory to sensitive and complex disputes. We strive to efficiently comprehend your situation and its opportunities for sustainable and agreeable resolution. We can either confidentially present you with a private analysis, or mediate the conflict with both of you until resolved. Any resolution you come to will be informed by a deeper analysis of the conflict that can be psychoanalytic, cultural and/or more financially-focused. Our high-level divorce mediation services are tailored to the needs of people with complex lives or divorces that may be difficult or protracted. We can intervene to break litigation deadlocks when divorces are already underway. We work with individuals from several cultures and countries, and can help with national and international relocation issues associated with divorce. You can visit us at our offices in Boulder, CO, Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA and Beverly Hills, CA. We can also be reached by Telephone, Zoom or Facetime. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice. Please contact us to see how we can help.

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