[Time to Read: 2.1 mins]
The Mediator’s battle cry is usually,”Let the parties self-determine their outcome. Our job is not to interfere with what the husband and wife think is fair.” We are just supposed to sit back and let them come to agreement on their issues. Right?
I had this told to me by non-attorney and attorney mediators since I first started in mediation. “Let them decide on their own what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. Don’t interfere. Give them information but let them decide.”
Recently a couple told me that they had put together their own agreement; they didn’t need me to help them negotiate or change anything. I wanted to hear what they had come up with.
- They could just take the other person’s name off the mortgage and assume their liability.
- They could transfer retirement funds without getting divorced.
- They didn’t have to create a parenting plan for the children. They would figure it out as they went along.
They couldn’t do any of the above, because the foundation upon which the agreement was based was faulty. I had to help them recreate the terms of the agreement in a way that would work and make sense.
After mediating divorces for many years, I’ve learned that while it is important to let the couple decide their outcome, my role is to guide them through the process, which often means suggesting alternatives and the timing of actions. It’s still “self-determination,” but with a little help.
Did you let the couple “self-determine” their divorce agreement, or did you provide a little guidance and help?