Family Law Mediation – My Approach
Family law disputes are unique because the issues are so important. The participants are challenged to not only resolve the immediate conflict but, in many cases, to find a way to sustain their relationship over time.
Many families often choose a mediator who will shuttle between the participants and their lawyers to craft a deal. In doing so, the participants place great power in the mediator and their lawyers, who are ultimately responsible for shaping the outcome. While the parties may reach a deal, it is one that can feel imposed and unsatisfying.
An alternative is a mediation where the participants take greater control of the process. The professionals involved support the participants in making decisions together that will yield a more satisfying outcome.
I encourage lawyer participation. The law is used to educate the participants about their legal rights and possible legal outcomes. But unlike litigation, mediation is a malleable process. Participants can decide how much weight to give to the law. With the support of a mediator, participants and their lawyers can generate creative solutions that meet their interests even if the outcome may be different from what a judge might decide.
The participants and their lawyers work with the mediator to design the process and to create an environment that is respectful to the participants. Joint conferences are valuable to help participants understand each other’s views, explore their interests and generate options to resolve the dispute. Private conferences are equally valuable to help communicate information, evaluate proposals and develop options.