Finding a cure for the common cold or finding a mediator in the courtroom?
Answer: It’s a trick question. You are not going to find either.
Mediation has been around for thousands of years. If you go back in history to the Druids, they were the mediators for the warring Celtic tribes. They were brought in to settle disputes and try to prevent wars from happening. As mediators, we are trying to prevent sides from warring with each other, which decimates their property, incomes and family.
Sounds like divorce, doesn’t it?
And yet, mediators are still treated like the new kid on the block. When you go to a courtroom, it would make sense to find a mediator at the intake when the couple first comes in, to see if there is any possibility of settling certain discrete issues or even the whole case.
But, of course, that doesn’t happen, does it?
Judges often talk about their incredible caseloads. They are seeing forty or more cases per day, yet none of them are suitable for mediation. This is something that has puzzled me a long, long time.
I’m seeing more and more cases involving couples that are in litigation and are just at their wit’s end. They are now reaching out to mediators to stop the bleeding and to help them. In the past week, I’ve seen two couples who have spent over a year in litigation. Nothing has been settled.
I don’t know if I will ever see mediators in the courtroom in my lifetime, but for the good of the people that are unfortunately going through a separation/divorce process, I hope the courts will catch up with what divorcing couples have now realized. In many, many instances, mediation is the better way to go.
In the mediation process the agreements are written by attorneys. They are often reviewed by attorneys. So lawyers aren’t excluded from the separation/divorce process. I have lawyers involved in almost every part of the process. The difference is that the lawyers don’t negotiate for the couple. The husband and wife will be in control of settling their affairs. The review attorney’s role is limited to reviewing the agreement.
Why aren’t mediators in the courtroom?
Does anyone believe that a courtroom is really the place to solve family issues? I don’t think so, but until mediators are allowed into the courtroom, couples will continue to wage war with one another, and then, amid the smoking wreckage, they are told to move forward and work together to be parents to their children.
Isn’t the repetition of something that doesn’t work called insanity? No! It’s called litigation.