For separating or divorcing couples, it’s a sad but true fact of life that post-separation conflict can, if left unchecked, quickly spiral into an out-of-control litigation war. But even in cases of difficult conflict, it doesn’t have to be this way.
What many people fail to realize is that in most cases, litigation wars are driven by external factors that have nothing to do with the legal issues in dispute. It’s the anger, fear, desire for vindication, and yes, sometimes even hatred, that colour people’s emotions and prevent them from considering that there may be a better way. Too many people focus on their former spouse’s perceived bad behaviour or poor character, rather than focusing on what the legal issues are and how to resolve them.
But if your sole focus is on “winning” your court case, rather than trying to understand the dynamic behind the conflict, you’ll end up going in circles and wasting your time and money.
The sobering truth is that there is no legal process that can repair a former spouse’s character or heal the pain a former spouse may have caused by cheating or being a less-than-responsible parent. And court rarely, if ever, provides the emotional satisfaction or vindication that litigants are hoping for – it may provide a fair legal outcome, but that’s about it. And at what cost?
Mediation can be a better way because it focuses on negotiating a fair outcome, rather than on “winning.” A good mediator will help clients separate the person from the problem, and focus on interests rather than positions. By treating each party with respect, giving them gentle reality checks where necessary, and helping them have a constructive, goal-oriented conversation about what constitutes a fair legal outcome, a good mediator will help people resolve their conflict, not compound it.
Often, we’ll hear a client claim that their former spouse enjoys or even loves litigation. However, that’s rarely the case. Very few people want to squander tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers or spend years of their lives embroiled in stressful proceedings that harm the kids. The truth is that most people who are stuck in difficult conflict are stuck because they are trapped in their own narratives and don’t stop to consider that they may have other options besides continuing the fight they’ve become so entrenched in.
By way of example, we recently resolved a case for clients who had been in litigation for two years and who had each spent over $100,000.00 on legal fees. It took a grand total of six hours to reach a final settlement. Their lawyers attended mediation with them and signed off on the final settlement, and at long last these individuals were free to move on with their lives. They were beyond grateful, but also expressed regret that they hadn’t attempted mediation two years earlier. One thing they both agreed on was that they had achieved little of value for all of the money they had spent on the legal process.
At RDK Divorce Group, a big part of our work is to help clients identify the factors and emotions which may be getting them “stuck” (and some are way more stuck than others) so that they can resolve the legal issues, put the past behind them, and throw their energies into resolving their issues so that their family can achieve closure, move on, and start the important process of healing from the pain of separation and divorce .
With over forty years of collective experience, we know what we’re doing. No matter how emotionally and/or financially complex our clients’ situations may be, where there’s a will on the clients’ part, we will find a way to get it done.
If you feel that mediation could be right for you, contact us to learn more about our process and how we can help. We’d love to hear from you.