Unfortunately, when couples go down the road of contested divorce litigation, it is common for them to get so bogged down by the thought of winning that they lose focus on the issues and instead cling to their positions. The nature of the adversarial system means their lawyers, no matter how well-intentioned, will also focus on positions, rather than the issues underlying those positions. This is a recipe for emotional and financial disaster, and it happens every single day. Pre-suit divorce mediation is very different, and one of the greatest advantages of pre-suit mediation, as compared to traditional adversarial divorce litigation, can be illustrated by the classic story of two chefs fighting over a single lemon.
As the story goes, there are two chefs that run a restaurant together, and at some point they begin fighting over which one of them should be entitled to the lemon. Each chef is adamant that he needs the entire lemon, and as the argument escalates, each chef becomes more deeply entrenched in his position that he must have the entire lemon, and that the other chef should get nothing. Ultimately, the chefs hire separate lawyers and lawsuits are filed in court. When the parties ultimately come before the judge, after spending tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees, the most likely scenario is for the judge to simply slice the lemon in half, with each chef receiving an equal portion of the lemon. Judges are tasked with making decisions that are fair to the parties, and on first analysis the decision to split the lemon in half might sound appealing, pun fully intended!
However, let’s suppose that instead of lawyering up, the chefs instead decide to hire a qualified mediator to help resolve their dispute. Rather than focusing solely on each chef’s position that he should get the entire lemon, the mediator helps the parties explore the actual issues underlying their positions, and to determine why each chef is so insistent on receiving the entire lemon.
During these discussions, all conducted in a confidential setting instead of open court, it is determined that the first chef wants to make a special marinade that requires the juice from an entire lemon, and the second chef wants to make a special pie that requires all the zest from the lemon’s peel. Prior to mediation, the chefs were so stuck on arguing their positions that they failed to realize that a win-win solution was very achievable, and that there really wasn’t so much to their argument after all.
The lesson is clear, pre-suit mediation helps the parties see their circumstances from a different perspective, and allows them more freedom to seek a resolution that can actually benefit both, instead of the zero-sum game that is standard in most types of litigation, including divorce.
Please read more about pre-suit divorce mediation on our website, and contact me for a free consultation to learn how Healthy Family Mediation Center can help you through the process in a healthier and more affordable manner.
Click on our website at www.HealthyFamilyMediation.com for more information. Or call 239.529.3549 to discuss your options.