By Terri Breer
Many divorce litigation attorneys are highly skilled and knowledgeable about family law and may be Certified Family Law Specialists. Litigation attorneys often reassure their clients that they will fight for them and secure all they are entitled to in the divorce. A spouse going through a divorce will often find that their litigation attorney is comforting, caring, and understanding, but litigation attorneys like the great boxing champion, Mohammed Ali, are trained to fight. They may look like butterflies, but they can sting like bees.
Attorneys are first trained to fight in law school, where they learn how to persuade, negotiate, apply pressure, and use the strength of the law to convince a Judge to make a ruling in their client’s favor. Their law professors teach them that they must always be zealous advocates for their clients. Law students are not in law school to study how to reduce the economic or emotional costs associated with a high conflict divorce.
When divorcing couples make decisions together using a cooperative process like mediation, they have no need for a zealous advocate. Mediators are not trained to fight. They are trained to peacefully resolve conflict, and support thoughtful decision-making. Mediators are trained to empathize, brainstorm, and problem-solve. Instead of creating conflict, they work to resolve conflict. When spouses retain a mediator to facilitate the resolution of their legal disputes, they have retained a peacemaker, not a professional trained to fight. With the help of an effective and highly skilled mediator, divorcing couples will find that after the divorce is finalized, they can preserve an ongoing relationship with their spouse. They will be able to jointly attend and enjoy their children’s future events and milestones. Children’s sports events, parent-teacher conferences, graduations, marriages, and the birth of their grandchildren can be shared experiences for ex-spouses long after they have mediated and settled their divorce in mediation.
The sting of litigation; however, often continues to create discomfort long after the divorce. The children whose parents have engaged in adversarial courtroom tactics will often stress over which parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend they can invite to which event, or they may worry about how to keep the peace when their mom and dad, or previous in-laws are unable to be in the same room together without causing uncomfortable incidents or angry outbursts.
The end of the marriage does not have to bring an end to these relationships. When parties choose to mediate, they will have the opportunity to create positive change and grow through the divorce process. Couples who participate in a mediation process have a better opportunity to not only foster these ongoing relationships with extended family but will create more secure and happy children post-divorce. The end of the marriage does not have to bring an end to these relationships.
Couples who participate in a cooperative mediation process and retain a mediator instead of two dueling attorneys can avoid the sting of divorce litigation.