Marital mediation is different from marriage counseling, and may be helpful even when marital counseling does not bring positive and constructive change. Marital counseling is performed by professionals with training and background in mental health theory and practice, which incorporate diagnosis, therapy, and treatment of personality and relationship problems. This includes family history, and personal and sexual history, neurotic behavior, and symptoms of mental disorder and illness. A marriage counselor helps clients understand and change their behaviors, and improve the happiness and health of their relationship.
Marital mediation is different and focuses on dispute resolution. When a couple has an unproductive manner of settling conflict, the marriage suffers and may fail and thereby lead to divorce. These negative conflict behaviors are easily identified and resolved by the techniques of marital mediation. In this case, the marital mediator works with a couple to help them resolve ongoing specific disputes and ameliorate negative behavior. The emphasis is on analyzing the communication of the couple and training them to have more productive styles of negotiation and conflict resolution. This can involve parenting, sexuality, finances, careers, family, spirituality, and more. Marital mediation is goal oriented, time limited, and practical, and often results in clearly written agreements that 1) keep the spouses in the marriage and 2) provide for easy resolution should they decide to divorce in the future. These are private, informal agreements without any legal significance but with a great deal of significance to marriage partners.
Additionally, if both parties agree to develop and articulate formal agreements concerning legal and financial matters, and they want to commit them to writing, these are called postnuptial agreements, and do have legal significance. In fact, some mediation firms like ours actually engage in business and financial valuation, and related legal agreements, and can help spouses each meet their separate financial and legal goals as represented in written postnuptial agreements. If the parties decide to enter into a written post-nuptial agreement, then they agree to discuss the formalities and the process with us at that time.