Caucusing is a tool that many mediators use during the divorce mediation process. It is a time when the mediator and one of the other parties meets separately and confidentially to discuss a topic in order to move the mediation forward.
Types of mediation caucusing
Caucusing takes many forms. Pre-caucusing takes place before mediation begins so that a mediator can get a sense of both parties’ wants and needs, and so that both parties can speak openly with the mediator before the sessions begin. Shuttle caucusing occurs when the mediator goes back and forth between the two parties in a series of caucuses, perhaps because the parties are not ready to meet face to face. Requested caucusing—the most common type of caucusing—takes place when one party asks to speak to the mediator alone, before, during, or after a session.
Problems caucusing can solve
Mediators utilize caucusing for a number of different reasons. In some cases, mediators choose to caucus in order to gain information or insight from one party that needs to be kept confidential. In other cases, the mediator may call a caucus to cool down both parties and relieve building tension. In still other cases, a mediator may offer negotiation advice. No matter the specific reason for calling a caucus, these private sessions exist in order to move the mediation process forward and toward settlement.
Problems caucusing can cause
Some mediators avoid caucusing in most cases, while others do not use the tool at all. Why? Some believe that caucusing with one party can cause bias (or the perception of bias by the other party) in a situation when it is vital that the mediator is neutral. Others believe that caucusing goes against the central idea of mediation—openly communicating with the other party and coming to a settlement through processing and compromising.
Seattle mediation attorney Molly B. Kenny
A Seattle mediation lawyer can help explain caucusing to you further—and help you decide whether or not you wish to seek out a mediator who utilizes caucusing. To learn more about Washington divorce mediation or to speak to an attorney about whether divorce mediation is right for your situation, call the Law Office of Molly B. Kenny today: 425-460-0550.