When I mediate, I am working to help divorcing couples to find a solution that will create the best future for both of them and their children, or at least, to minimize and share the pain equitably. I also work as an attorney at www.strichlaw.com, representing clients in “traditional” divorces. I would love to do only mediation, but as it is I get to see the best and worst of both worlds. I was recently involved in a matrimonial trial.
Now when couples are mediating and they reach what feels like a deadlock, they sometimes say, “we’ll just let the judge decide it.” The first and most obvious problem with that is that there will be no judge deciding until many months and most likely many thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars later. The other problem which may not be as obvious, but is perhaps even worse than the wasted time and money, is that when the judge hands down a decision, neither party really has ownership of the decision. The decision may go mostly one person’s way, but that person still didn’t get the experience of crafting the compromise, trying on different possibilities, being part of the decision making process. The other person will feel discounted and trampled. Neither will feel that the solution is theirs.
Mediation is not going to involve anyone “winning” and getting their own way, but I work very hard to assure that both feel fully involved in the process, and both have thought through all the possible repercussions of their settlement, and are choosing it as a better alternative. It may not be win-win, but no one loses. Experience shows that couples who mediate are less likely to end up in court in the future, making motions to modify support, or arguing over interpretations of their settlement agreement. Because they both have ownership of the compromise that was reached, they are more likely to feel able to abide by it, and try to make it work, in the future.
When you are going through the pain of a divorce, you most likely want it over, as soon as can be, to end the pain. If you take the time now to create an agreement you can take ownership of, you’ll be more likely to avoid years of pain in the future.
- Megan Oltman