We’re mediators, not divorce lawyers, because we love our work. We help couples resolve their differences as amicably as possible and with terms they both think are fair.
People come to us skeptical – how can we discuss our settlement together when we fight tooth and nail over which television program to watch?? !!
We always answer the same way – if you could talk so easily by yourselves about divorce, you wouldn’t need us!
We’re trained to defuse tensions and steer you away from tangential topics (you don’t have to keep replaying the fight you had over last Christmas’ dinner), so you can resolve the important issues.
Also, people wonder, when it comes to the finances, don’t you need a divorce litigator? No! Your divorce lawyer won’t be valuing your business or co-op. He or she will call in experts to do that.
But there won’t be only one expert – there will be two. You and your spouse will have battling experts in court, who cost a bundle. In mediation, couples pick an expert together, whom they consider smart and professional enough to do the valuations and pay only one fee.
The results of our work are rewarding – it’s a great moment for us in mediation to watch two people who thought they’d never agree on anything again, resolve issues together.
Despite our love of the process, there are certain cases that are NOT appropriate for mediation, and ethically we feel we must turn these away.
1. The Hidden-under-the-Mattress-Syndrome: It doesn’t have to be as blatant as a Cayman Island account. When your spouse is unwilling to share financial documents; when he or she is vague about bank accounts; when you get a general feeling that there’s real money tucked away somewhere that you aren’t privy to, you shouldn’t mediate. You won’t get your fair share of the marital assets. You need a judge to order your spouse to turn over financial information.
2. Bullied and Broken: We NEVER mediate cases in which one spouse is being abused. But there doesn’t have to be real abuse for mediation to be inappropriate. If you feel bullied by your spouse, afraid to speak up for what you want, you shouldn’t mediate. Sometimes we can help you find your voice in mediation. But we’ve had cases in which a spouse wanted to mediate, but we didn’t think it was appropriate. In one situation, the Wife was so beaten down, she would have taken far far less than any court would have granted her. We didn’t want her to go forward in mediation, and suggested she find a lawyer who could speak up for her.
3. Sex drugs and rock-and-Roll: Okay, not really sex and rock-and-roll. But if one party is too dissipated by drink or drugs, they cannot think clearly and make informed decisions. Also, unfortunately, if a party is mentally ill, they may not be able to mediate. But that’s not a blanket rule. We’ve mediated with bi-polar parties who understood their illness and could make rational decisions.
When one party is at a clear disadvantage because of lack of financial information, the bullying or abuse of the other spouse, or the party isn’t capable of thinking clearly, this party shouldn’t mediate. As mediators, committed to this work, we know that a one-sided agreement is no agreement at all.