Peaceful Divorce

The Plain Language movement is taking place all over the globe, including right here in Georgia. Municipalities, fed up with complaints from confused constituents, are looking for a way to use as few, unambiguous words as possible to get an idea across. With this, a lot of time can indeed be saved. Take this example of legalese being translated into common sense:

Legalese and Jargon Language: Citigroup today announced a series of repositioning actions that will further reduce expenses and improve efficiency across the company while maintaining Citi's unique capabilities to serve clients, especially in the emerging markets. These actions will result in increased business efficiency, streamlined operations and an optimized consumer footprint across geographies.

Translated into plain language: Citigroup announced layoffs today. This will save them money.

As a mediator, I get a kick out of the sheer number of unnecessary words in the first paragraph. None of them were needed to get the point across. The same can be said of several divorce documents that have been written.

As a remedy, plain language can be applied to many contexts, like:

  • Directions to and from the court or mediator’s office
  • Easy-to-understand intake documents
  • Commonsense summaries of court documents

We are much more likely to be successful in resolving conflicts if we all speak the same language. In fact, in a 2011 article called The Plain Language Movement in ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), there is an insightful quote by Jane M. Siegel, a professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School:

“There is no freedom or justice when the language of law and government is incomprehensible to a country's citizens."

Mediators can read contracts or legal documents and reframe, summarize or translate back to the parties. Mediators should also be conscious of their own language, ensuring he or she is not speaking legalese.

I recently had two clients who were together in the same room. One of them was asked to say how he felt, and then the other client was to supposed to repeat what she had heard, but she couldn’t. That’s why one of the things I advocate for is putting my clients’ intent into agreements. This ensures the parties are describing their stories in a way that the other parties can hear and ultimately understand.

Without crucial translation, conflict can remain. It prevents parties from hearing the same thing.

My grandfather would often point to a sign that would say “No swimming allowed!” My grandmother would agree, and say “No, swimming allowed!”

Something as small as a comma carries a lot of significance, especially to Grandma. That’s why it is important to think not only about what you are going to say, but how you are going to say it. Speaking and writing in clear and concise English will not only get your point across accurately and quickly, you may end up saving money on legal fees.

Do you already speak Plain English without knowing it? To learn more about plain language, visit The Plain Language Action Information Network.

Robert D. Bordett CFP, CDFA
Collaborative Practice
and Mediation Services

Views: 9


You need to be a member of Peaceful Divorce to add comments!

Join Peaceful Divorce

Become an affiliate of the Happily Divorced! book and audio program! Let Reformed "Killer" Divorce Attorney, Cynthia Tiano, and Dr. Max Vogt, Marriage and Family Psychologist, take you on an adventure into the lives of two families going through the divorce legal system - one doing "legal battle" and the other creating a "peaceful divorce". Learn how to create a Win-Win from their experiences...


Latest Activity

Robert D. Bordett, CFP, CDFA posted a blog post

How Important Is the Budget in Divorce Planning?

I think everyone’s least favorite word is BUDGET. Why don’t we want to hear that word? Think about it: We’re asking ourselves to do something we don’t want to do — or worse yet, someone else is asking us to do it. While we might not like them, having a budget does help. In divorce planning — whether you are going to litigation,…See More
Sep 18
Robert D. Bordett, CFP, CDFA posted a blog post

21st Century Parenting Plans

I remember when the default custody arrangement had one parent as the custodial parent, and the other parent was known as the “Disneyland parent.” They had their children every other weekend, and maybe once during the week for dinner. Today it is more common to see joint parenting time consist of one week on, and one week off or “two-two-five-five” time,…See More
Aug 15
Robert D. Bordett, CFP, CDFA posted a blog post

Including a Financial Professional in Your Mediation

Very often, couples who are divorcing amicably, or who have straightforward financial situations, will forgo meeting with a financial professional while they go through mediation. Though this may seem logical on its face, “going it alone” may result in unnecessary hardship and inaccurate calculations.  It is easy to simply look at a tax table today and say “I am going…See More
Jul 30
Robert D. Bordett, CFP, CDFA posted a blog post

What About the House?

Going through divorce means dealing with hundreds of details, some more important than others. One detail that merits extra contemplation is how to deal with the marital home.Does one spouse want to keep it because the children still live there? You don't want to disrupt their lives any more than is already happening. What if the children are grown? Do you still need that much of a house?Here are the three most common means of dealing with the house in divorce:Selling the house and dividing the…See More
Apr 24




© 2019   Created by Cynthia Tiano, Esq..   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service