The Trust Issue

Come divorce, trust usually flies out of the window, at least for one half of the couple. There’s nothing quite like the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with calling time to make me question all my old certainties. If I’m told that my other half finds they don’t love me any more, it begs a whole host of questions, not least was the feeling ever there in the first place.

For some people the loss of trust remains, painful and difficult to deal with as it is, on an emotional level. It’s there to be dealt with alongside everything else which will help me come out the other end of the process with a head held high and a belief in my own future. However for many people, particularly those who didn’t deal day to day with the finances or really don’t understand some of them, for instance where there is a business involved, the loss of trust sets in. It takes root and pervades all attempts at resolution. It means that I don’t believe in the disclosure which is offered. I remain convinced that there is financial manipulation, that there are hidden facts. If the person I believed was closest to me in the world was secretly planning to leave, what else may have been plotted?

Such feelings are perfectly understandable. All mediators and divorce lawyers know there is only one way of allaying the fears. Well, that’s probably putting it too high. What we are dealing with is getting to a situation where there can be trust in the facts albeit almost certainly still none in the person. The reality is that it’s simply not possible, whether in mediation or elsewhere, to negotiate until both people do trust in the facts. I can’t negotiate about dividing up the pie if I remain convinced that it’s actually a great deal larger than the one in front of me.

The difficulty is that, in solicitor negotiations, that’s often where the wheels fall off, again quite understandably. The person on the receiving end of what comes to seem like an unstoppable series of letters demanding more and more answers to questions they feel are fully answered already, can in the end dig in their heels. Many lawyers know that conversation with their client where they try to persuade them that this really will need to be dealt with if the negotiation arena is ever to be entered.

The beauty of mediation is that I have both people sitting in front of me. That gives me the chance to deal overtly with the trust issue. It affords an opportunity to drill down into what actually is necessary (and indeed achievable when it is , as so often, that conundrum of proving a negative) and to establish a sensible line between anxiety and loss of trust and what is reasonable. Most people with whom I mediate get all that. The person being asked to supply additional evidence understands that it’s the only way of moving forward. The other feels their concerns have been heard.

It doesn’t always work. However when two people are committed to trying to sort issues out in mediation, it’s frequently possible to deal with all those knotty trust issues as part of the process rather than the whole negotiation foundering and a court application becoming the only way forward.

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