Anyone who has been through a divorce will undoubtedly attest to the high emotional cost attached. While it's natural to focus on what the monetary cost is, the emotional side is often overlooked.

Emminent Psyschologist Maslow crafted his "heirachy of human needs" in the 1940's His pyramid explained the fundamental human needs that we require to function as individuals within a society.

At the top of the pyramid, self actualisation, then esteem, love/belonging/safety and finally physiological (food shelter). It's commonly accepted that at any point in time, the average person can manage with being out of touch with one of the five areas.

When multiple areas are of the heirachy are affected, the degree of stress and emotional turmoil increases exponentially.

During a divorce, it is not uncommon to see 4 if not all five areas directly affected. Ones sense of self worth can be affected during the break up of a long term marriage. Logically self esteem is affected by the loss of a long term partnership. Equally of course it follows that interpersonal relationships with family and communal friends would be affected by a hostile divorce.

The parties sense of safety is sure to take a knock in terms of what the future holds, future financial position etc. Equally where the split in household assets and home is at play, physiological stress would be incremental "where will I live..."

It's not hard to see how the average divorce action can affect all five areas of Maslows Heirachy of human needs. Similarly, it's understandable that the longer the action takes and the more it's drawn out - the greater the impact will be and the longer the recovery period.

During the littigation process, attorneys are there to represent their clients best interests and position before the law. While all attorneys will be empathetic and understanding of the situation, they're not counsellors and attention to the emotional needs is not within their scope.

This is again where mediation comes to the fore. A good mediator is acutely aware of the phsyiological and psychological stressors as these will inhibit the parties coming to an amicable solution. During the process, your mediator will try to understand the human dynamics and acknowledge those in furtherance of achieving an amicable settlement and closure.

At the end of a divorce mediation, your mediator will always stop to reflect and summarise where the parties have come from in the process, where they are at and the way forward - again due acknowledgement is given to the emotional stressors. This is key in achieving closure.

Mediation is as always a combination of skills. Listening, empathy, understanding, transaction analysis, mediation as a skill and of course negotiation.

In order to achieve the above skillset, your mediator will have spent time studying the emotional cost of a divorce so that he can understand the dynamics at play during the process.
This is also yet another reason why a mediated divorce is always preferable over a contested divorce in terms of time and resolution. A typical mediated divorce is handled within 3-4 weeks once the paperwork is drafted and sent to court a delay of around 3 months would be standard before the matter is called and finalised by the court. (Cape Town, other areas may vary in court time).

Logically, the emotional turmoil during a 3 week mediation period would trumph a one and a half year contested divorce. It goes without saying that the chances of creating a functional environment for the two parties to continue their journey as co-parents are way higher when they have only been party to a few weeks of emotional stress during the mediation as opposed to a year and a half of lawyer to lawyer battle.

Further reading: Maslows Heirachy of Human Needs