Monday, March 18, 2019

Mediation: A Different Approach to Family Law

Door Knockers, Rome

            I saw a “joke” on a German Instagram for lawyers. It goes something like this: “Ending your marriage is really tough because you have to deal with feelings…and with lawyers….”  Yes, I chuckled when I saw it. And I also recoiled a little.  I’d like to see the narrative re-framed: “We got to work through some really difficult issues and with the help of a lawyer we came up with a great workable mediation agreement!”
It doesn’t make a good snappy joke and perhaps it does sound a little ridiculous – who wants to deal with feelings and with attorneys, and who would ever believe that the acrimony that led to divorce could move over so that an agreement could be reached??  But the truth is, getting a divorce doesn’t have to add to the emotional minefield. There are effective ways to divorce that don’t add gasoline to the raging fire. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, based on my years of life and work experience, I hope to convince you that mediating a peaceful settlement is actually a great way to obtain a divorce. 
Dealing with the underlying feelings – the reasons for the disputes – can work miracles to help the divorcing parties come to understandings of themselves and of their former partners, leading the way for agreements regarding custody and property and all those other thorny family law issues. The benefits of this approach can include saving substantial amounts of money by not going to court – litigation is horribly expensive. Mediation also saves emotional wear and tear for every member of the family – divorcing spouses and children and siblings (and also friends and co-workers) – as unfortunately litigation often brings out the very worst in otherwise nice people.  There are also significant long-term benefits because an agreement where each person has a say is much more likely to be adhered to in the future, which reduces the likelihood of having to go to court to make changes.
I love my work as a family law mediator and I’m on a mission to help people get divorced without feeling like they’ve bounced through class five rapids without a raft. Coming to an agreement on important issues like custody, support, the family home, the family dog, etc., etc., feels really good for the people getting divorced, which can be an important step toward living a happy post-divorce life.
I try to help divorcing parties to focus on the long game and not just the pain and anger which they are currently feeling (all of which is valid and has its place too). Sitting with their ex in a mediator’s office might not be the way that most people would choose to spend their afternoons, however, more often than not, the end result is great and makes it well worth the effort. 
If you think mediation might be right for you, please feel free to contact me with your questions.  Tel: 510.210.3796 Email: