The Gray Divorce Podcast: Episode 14 Mediating High Conflict Divorce with Liz Merrill
My guest for Episode 14 is Liz Merrill. Liz is a mediator, educator, and divorce coach who helps parties navigate high-conflict divorce. Liz collaborates with financial advisors, attorneys, and mediators to help get the best possible results for their clients while saving them a lot of time, money, and stress.
Liz and I discuss how it takes a special sort of person to mediate high-conflict divorce, to put yourself in a high-stress situation. She talks about her own personal experience and how it helped her professionally.
Characteristics of the High-Conflict Individual
High-conflict individuals tend to see things in black and white and also tend to see things from their perspective. They are the type of people who do not easily accept blame, if ever, but are quick to blame others for their problems. These people tend to view themselves as victims, as the ones who are being abused either financially or emotionally.
We also discussed the use of the term narcissism. And how it's become overused and perhaps even trivialized through its overuse. Essentially, narcissism has become a catch-all word used to describe someone who is demonstrating the behavioral characteristics of a jerk.
Liz discusses how you can predict the behavior of a high-conflict personality in divorce and even strategize around it. According to her experience, it's almost like high-conflict individuals have a playbook on how to behave when put in a pressured situation.
The Mediation Process
We discuss the flexibility of the mediation process. It can be as short as half a day or even less than an hour, or it could last for weeks and multiple sessions. It really depends on the clients and the nature of their situation. We pay special attention to the role of the mediator as a facilitator and not an advisor. It is the mediator’s job to try to encourage proposals from the parties involved, not to impose a solution like a judge.
We discuss how mediation is preferable to a long drawn-out litigation or trial. Mediation can be empowering for the parties involved precisely because they're the ones arriving at the solution for their own problems. And, of course, mediation can save thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs.