Clients often ask “Is mediation right for our divorce situation?”
A better question might be “Is litigation right for our divorce situation?”
Last week I attended a two-day high school peer mediation training at CRU Institute
. Nancy Kaplan, Institute Director, gave a quick test for whether a decision that is based on rules interpreted by an uninvolved third person is better, comparing it to litigation, or whether a decision made based on needs, interests and relationships by the people involved in the conflict is more appropriate, comparing it to mediation. The example she used was a baseball game: the game needs to go on, the decision needs to be quick and dirty, based on rules. In a baseball game future relationships, needs and interests, and feelings are not important, communication is not required and planning for the future is not considered. What is important is that the decision is made quickly so that the game can go on. The umpire or judge makes the decision immediately, based on rules, with no consideration of the players’ needs, interests or future relationship.
In contrast, when a decision affects people’s lives directly and people have significant personal needs and possibly a future relationship (albeit different) it is crucial to focus on communication and planning. Relying on a judge to make a quick decision based on rules applied to limited information is probably not in the best interest of the parties involved. Mediation provides an opportunity for divorcing couples to communicate, plan and reach an outcome that meets their individual needs given the circumstances.
Ironically, mediation has the added benefit of usually being a much quicker process than litigation.
The question is simple. Do you want to make the decisions regarding your future life? Or would you rather have an umpire make those decisions for you?