Getting Mediation Right

A late arriving client allows for this short post. I intend to figure out a way to insert a long string of comments from lawyers and mediators nationwide from my Linked In ABA “Family Law Professionals” group. It is very illuminating of the different attitudes and approaches to mediation nationwide.

For now, I just want to note what two good lawyers and a good mediator can accomplish. Lawyers, even they get cranky, and clients, even when they get a bit snarly, can work together through discovery, and conclude a case as we did yesterday.

Polite inquiries, even accusations, can be conveyed quickly by e-mail, investigated, and answered. Discovery Rules can be followed, and the parties can show up at mediation, prepared with facts and documentation, and prepared to negotiate a solution.

When parties can afford counsel, and when counsel and the mediator have trust and competency, good things can happen. Yesterday we did just than, and the parties figured out a parenting plan, the disposition of the former family residence property (over which there was a dispute as to value and ownership),  and the division of debts (some of which were contested), retirement plans, insurance plan cash value, personal property, and spousal support, and “fault”. They agreed to get at “no fault” divorce.

Now, the parties get to move on with their lives and “divorce their lawyers” at the very first hearing, in December.  Many couples are just loading their weapons at this stage, but these folks get to leave the field of battle, in six months or less, and move on with their lives. Think about it!

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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