When providing consultation services, the client doesn’t need to agree with anything I say and he can still have a profitable consultation. Once I’ve presented the information he wants and the information I think is important, he keeps what he things is useful and we discard the rest. We use the data he selects for the decision making process.
It’s different in mediation. For me to provide a mediation structure, the parties must, at the vary least, be open to the principles listed below. If they are not, we are all wasting our time. This is way I strongly recommend that they interview at least two and preferably more mediators before selecting one to work with. This is why I never offer to “sign a couple up” at the conclusion of the Introduction to Mediation.
The following principles are in addition to those listed above as Common to Mediation and Consultation:
- Divorce is not like a partnership dissolution. The analogy is not only wrong, it is pernicious. Business partnerships are, at their essence, about money. Marriages are, at their essence, emotional.
- The emotional/psychological divorce drives the legal and economic divorce. Work through the psychology and the legal and economic issues will almost always fall into place. It doesn’t work the other way around.
- A highly probable description of what happens during a divorce will resemble the “step-theory” of grief (viz. Kübler-Ross) which was empirically substantiated by the Yale Bereavement Study in 2007.
- At least in South Santa Barbara County, divorces require between 18 and 36 months between separation and resolution of all issue by entry of a Judgment. This is not, in any way, the result of court delays. The court family law calendars are current and have been current for years.
- While statistical average have no causal effect on the time it will take a particular divorce to conclude, it is reasonable to ask a couple to consider what it is about their situation that would require them to take longer than average or would allow them to conclude more quickly than average.
- There is a time when a divorce becomes “ripe for settlement.” This is a fact not simply an idea.
- In terms of timing, I can go as fast as the couple. I can complete the whole thing in a single day, if that is what the couple wants and if that is what they are capable of doing. However, I will not attempt to push a divorce to completion (which would almost surely be illusory).\
- My job is to serve as a guide. If a divorce is a jungle, it’s one I’ve been through a couple of thousand times. But the jungle is never the same. The clients tell me the kind of route they want to take – what they want to avoid and what they are willing to confront. My job is the find the paths along that route. The couple walks the whole way and carries their own packs. I can take care of some technical stuff, but the couple is mostly on their own. Each will come to places that she or he will have to enter alone. I do my best work when I’m able to stay out of the way while the couple works on their own solutions to their own problems.