Mediation…the wave of the future?

analogy with ocean wave and beautiful sunset of Divorce Mediation: Navigating the Choppy Waters of Divorce

Is mediation the wave of the future?  One can only hope! I have to say that I do believe it is beginning to catch on, more and more couples come to me telling me they watched their sister, brother, mom, dad, friend…go through a divorce and they spent over $100k, it took 5 years and the children were destroyed in the process…it is no secret that family litigation is toxic and can return NO good results…so why do many couples still turn to attorneys to fight it out?  Well, some because it is all they know how to do, others because they are hurt and think it is the best revenge…but who are you going after?  If there are kids involved, no matter who you THINK you are going after, they are the ultimate casualties…

And still others because they do not know enough about mediation of what it can offer.  So if you have been through mediation, or you know of mediation and you hear someone who is contemplating divorce, do your good deed for the year and direct them to speak to a mediator.  There is no harm in at least learning your options…and going through mediation does not mean you abandon legal advice, you are encouraged to maintain contact with your own personal counsel to ask questions and gain clarification around your rights along the way.  Due to their commitment as a neutral, a mediator (even and attorney-mediator) cannot offer legal advice…only legal information.

What does this mean? This means in mediation you will gain education and understanding of the process and laws surrounding divorce…what you will not receive is “advice” as you would expect from your attorney.  WHY? In mediation the goal is to reach a MUTUALLY acceptable agreement – to be MUTUALLY acceptable, it requires both parties make concessions and give a little.  If you and your spouse choose litigation and hire your own attorneys, the goal is not a mutually acceptable agreement, the goal is to WIN…at any cost (and don’t be fooled, it WILL cost you…financially and emotionally).  To clarify a bit, what this means in practice is that your mediator will not help you get the most you can, instead, your mediator will help you see the big picture, the picture that will be  non-existent in your mind when you come to the first session.  The picture that contains the MOST important components of your entire divorce…your health, your kids, your future.

Believe it or not, the cars, the furniture, the money even…not the most important…yes, they have their place in the process, but completing your divorce without being a broken person with broken children is FAR more important than anything else. If you are looking someone who truly does care about both you and your spouses well being,, and will stand by both of your sides, be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, an outlet to vent with…and a person to keep you both focused on the big picture and the reality of the decisions you make, then you have come to the right place.  I wake up in the mornings to emails and voice mails from my clients telling me they could have never made it without me, that I personally made a very dark time in their life a little brighter and they feel at peace with the decisions made…find me one family law attorney that has received messages such as this.

Generally, those who do chose litigation very much dislike their attorney by the end of the process, they want to sue them for malpractice and cannot believe how long it took and how much it cost…I feel honored to have found a profession where I truly help people and do not rob them in the process. I too hold my law degree, but have chosen to use it in a different manner.  One of my all time favorite quotes sums up what I believe a law degree should create – peacemakers…

“Discourage litigation…persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them that the nominal winner is often the real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of becoming a good {wo}man.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


by: Jennifer Segura

Jennifer Segura with west coast family mediation center
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