What Is Caucusing? Should we use it?

Caucuses are private meetings that take place within the process of divorce mediation between the mediator and one of the parties. The information exchanged during these meetings is confidential, unless clearly stated otherwise. Caucuses may take place before mediation begins, during mediation sessions, or after a mediation session is over. A mediator may ask for a caucus, or one of the parties may request one. 

A mediator may wish to call a caucus for a number of reasons:

  • To discuss the settlement privately with one party
  • To share negotiation tips
  • To allow one party to let off steam
  • To relieve building tension during a mediation session

While some mediators often rely on caucuses to move the mediation process forward, others do not believe that caucusing is a helpful tool. These latter mediators believe that caucusing can create bias, or the perception of bias, and that caucusing goes against the philosophy behind mediation. Before beginning the mediation process, it is important to understand your mediator’s stance on caucusing, as well as how the caucusing process will work during your sessions. 

The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny works with clients going through divorce and child custody mediation in the Seattle area. To speak with a Washington mediation attorney or to find legal representation, call us today at 425-460-0550.

Should We Use Caucusing During Our Divorce Mediation?

When you meet with your divorce mediator, she should overview the mediation process and share the rules that you must abide by during your mediation sessions. Some mediators will utilize caucuses as a tool during your sessions. There are both pros and cons to taking advantage of caucusing, and whether or not you decide to make caucusing part of your sessions depends on your unique situation, as well as your own thoughts and feelings on the subject. 

Some believe that caucusing gives both parties a special opportunity to speak openly and confidentially with the mediator—an opportunity that can speed up the mediation process, lead to a fairer settlement, and ensure that everyone’s needs are met. Caucusing can also prevent emotions from running too high or keep potential solutions from being considered. 

On the other hand, some believe that caucusing goes against what is at the heart of the mediation process: open and honest communication. Breaking up joint mediation sessions with private sessions could possibly cause bias or the perception of bias—and promote secret sharing. In some cases, caucusing could make the mediation process take longer or make coming to an agreement more difficult. 

Before embarking on your divorce mediation process, make sure you and your ex both understand whether caucusing will be used and what the rules surrounding caucuses are, according to your mediator. 

Do you need the assistance of a Seattle divorce mediation attorney? Call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to speak to a lawyer in your area: 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny