One of the advantages of divorce mediation is that it allows both people in the relationship to come together and speak directly to each other — and just as importantly, to be heard. Mediation facilitates decision-making and encourages compromise, but there is one thing about it that makes some people nervous: how to deal with power imbalances.
Sarah Jessica Parker has another critically acclaimed half-hour show on HBO, but this time she is exploring the end of relationships rather than the beginning. Divorce finished its first season on December 11, but is currently available to stream.
Though fictional, I found many aspects of the series to be strikingly real. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Frances expresses the desire to have as peaceful a divorce as possible, opting to go through mediation instead of litigation. Frances’ husband Robert (played by Thomas Haden Church) initially agrees, but is soon swayed by a friend to skip mediation and hires a litigator instead, leaving Frances at the mediator’s office by herself for the first session.
Politics and divorce have a lot in common when you think about it. There are two different sides, an array of commentators, and the parties exhibit entrenched thinking from which they find it nearly impossible to budge. Luckily, there are some moments of cooperation in both politics and divorce—and there’s no reason why there can’t be more.
My colleagues and fellow bloggers, Drs. Lauren Behrman and Jeffrey Zimmerman, recently wrote that one of the biggest obstacles to coming to an agreement in divorce or politics is catastrophizing—responding to something perceived as negative with an “end-of-the-world” mentality. People engaged in politics may see the election of a new president as an ominous sign that their very way of life is in danger. Likewise, parenting plans and support schedules can make someone who is a party to a divorce feel as if their way of life is ending.
The is the second article in a series focused on Why Court Should Be the Last Resort For Your Divorce. If you’d like a copy of the infographic that tells you more, click here.
Join me as we continue to examine the myriad reasons why you may want to reconsider the idea of having “your day in court.” Maintaining control and flexibility over your life and the divorce process are just 2 of those reasons. Continue reading
The is the first article in a series focused on Why Court Should Be the Last Resort For Your Divorce. If you’d like a copy of the infographic that tells you more, click here.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson
If you get into an argument with someone, does it do you any good to dwell on it for the rest of the day or the week or the year? Most people would agree that revisiting the argument over and over again serves no purpose other than to compromise their productivity and the quality of their life. It’s common sense. Focusing instead on the present and the future, on the rest of the day, enables you to go back to being your best self. Eventually, you will forget about the argument—and perhaps even try to mend fences with the other party.
As a mediator and collaborative lawyer, I attract clients whose main priority is to come to an amicable agreement. What I want them to understand is that an amicable agreement does not equal a vague agreement. We need to balance the desire for an amicable divorce negotiation with the need to create an agreement that will allow the couple to live amicably long after the divorce is finalized.
Divorce agreements are living documents; my clients are going to keep it alive by turning to it for answers, well into the foreseeable future. A good agreement is therefore a durable agreement.
I have written before about the benefits of mindfulness and conscious coupling. In this blog I focus on the mindfulness of the attorney or mediator who is working with the couple. Let’s call it “conscious lawyering.”
For a couple considering divorce, the process is going to involve uncomfortable feelings and situations. As a collaborative lawyer or mediator, I am part of that process, too. So the first step to conscious lawyering is taking care of myself; by being mindful of my own emotions and reactions at the negotiating table, and by being able to look at a situation objectively with a wider lens.
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
– Abraham Lincoln
When divorcing couples choose to negotiate the terms of their divorces outside of the court system—whether through mediation or collaborative law—they typically have the best intentions going into the process. They want to be fair to each other; they want to conserve time and money by staying out of court; they want to keep their kids out of their disagreements.
But as the process moves forward, some realizations quickly set in: Negotiating financial and child-related issues that affect an entire family is hard work and probably won’t happen as quickly as everyone wants. Emotions flare, and not everyone is able to be their best selves at all times.
The primary function of a consulting attorney is to provide advice and counsel during the mediation process and provide the support you need to advocate for yourself. This is different from a “review attorney” whose primary job is to review the agreement that has been drafted after the mediation process is over. These are 2 very different roles. If you took my previous advice and are interviewing consulting attorneys, these are 3 important questions to ask.