While mediation is common in the legal system, the public is not very familiar with mediation and what happens in the process. This lack of familiarity is not helped by mediation on the big or little screens (see Wedding Crashers or Fairly Legal) or by the confidentiality protections that keep people from discussing their mediations outside of the mediation itself. Now and again we’ll get some good nuggets like the Microsoft-DOJ case, the Girls Gone Wild case, or the book Damages. But while they make for some good teaching nuggets, these aren’t necessarily the best examples for public consumption. What we need are good examples of what mediation can provide to regular folks in their typical encounter with the civil legal system.
Today I came across one that fits the bill. Priscilla Gilman, author and blogger for the Daily Beast, wrote a piece entitled My Good Divorce: How One Woman Found Happiness Separating that details her fear of divorce (having been a child of divorce) and how she and her husband split amicably. While the piece isn’t “about mediation” it is clear that mediation gave her and her now ex-husband the space to work on their on-going relationship and to make it a good one.
Where my parents spent eight years post separation locked in legal battle over assets before finally divorcing and only were in the same room three times in the twenty years after their divorce, Richard and I did six months of mediation with a social worker, psychologist, and lawyer, wrote a parenting plan that covered everything from financial arrangements to our parenting philosophy, did a nesting custody arrangement (where the kids stay in one place and the parents move in and out of the apartment). . . . It took time, humility, and a lot of hard work, but Richard and I now have a beautifully supportive co-parenting relationship and a true and rewarding friendship.
As more stories like this one get into the public realm and gain traction, the more understood our profession will be. If you’re a divorce practitioner, I suggest giving this article to every potential/new client.
Hat Tip – The Dish