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Will mediation work with a liar?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Family Law |

If you are going through a divorce or custody dispute in California, you might know that mediation or collaborative law are available options to resolve your issues.

You may also know that mediation comes with many benefits. It generally saves people time and money and increases the chance of obtaining an outcome everyone is satisfied with.

While these are legitimate benefits of mediation, everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you believe that mediation will be pointless because your spouse or co-parent is a habitual liar.

This is a valid concern. Lying or altering facts happens in mediation. The other party is naturally going to want to present their side of the story to the mediator in a light most favorable to them.

Trust your mediator

Fortunately, most mediators recognize that parties are not always telling them the whole truth. Mediators usually know that in any mediation, there are two sides, and truth/reality consists of a mix of both sides.

There are also some techniques that you can use in mediation to ensure productive negotiations, even when your spouse or co-parent is lying.

The slow drip process

One of these is the “slow drip” process. In most mediations, both parties will have a chance to speak at the start of the mediation and say what they are looking for.

Using the slow drip process, you slowly reveal information only when you believe that it will help further negotiations.

For example, if you are in custody mediation and you are seeking primary custody, you might start out by saying that you recognize how important it is that your child has meaningful time with each parent.

You might then later expand on that by saying that your co-parent could benefit from weekend time with the child when they are out of school. If you had used your opening statement to talk about all the reasons you think you should have primary custody, you are giving your co-parent information to create lies from.

Directly address the lies

There are various other tactics you can use during mediation to neutralize a liar. You can even bluntly ask them if they are lying.

Preparing for mediation with a known liar requires strategic thinking and planning. Professionals experienced in this area can help.