Peaceful Divorce

Don't Bet on the Mediation Horse in every Race--Women often lose big in Mediation !

As an attorney for 35 years, a trial attorney representing only women since 1992 through my six lawyer divorce and custody law firm, The co-founder of three interdisciplinary collaborative practice groups or organizations and a trained mediator who teaches divorce law to mediators for a large community mediation center, I have learned one thing for sure. No single method of achieving a divorce is the answer. I have seen women abused by mediation just as I have seen them abused by the court system. I have seen great mediators and lousy ones just as I have seen great trial lawyers as well as lousy ones. I have seen honest lawyers and dishonest lawyers. What I have learned is that a really good attorney measures the facts and gets to know their client before determining which course of action best serves a client.

Each case has it's own cast of characters who affect how a case should be handled. Each couple has between them a certain dynamic which may or may not lend itself to collaboration or mediation.Sometimes the extant dynamic can only be addressed by trial. There is no one methodology that is "the answer".

So the lesson is when someone has the only "way" to do something, be wary. Experienced attorneys never lose sight of the 4 ways to accomplish divorce, negotiate,mediate,collaborate and yes, even litigate. So make sure your attorney is comfortable in all four venues before you choose an attorney and a course of action.

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Comment by Cynthia Tiano, Esq. on October 5, 2009 at 6:55pm
Thanks, I appreciate that!
Comment by Charlie Hofheimer on October 5, 2009 at 6:09pm
I do believe the mediation model that has lawyers sitting in as advisors to clients or the mediation model with two mediators (often 1 man and 1 woman) has less chance of reflecting the ingrained biases of the mediator. My concern is the testing of who exerts control and how does it affect the other spouse. All too often a woman comes to me and tells me how the mediator "intervened" and the outcome is significantly less than would normally expected. Plus in Virginia, you do not have to be a professional to be a mediator and the training required equates to a 10 days of work. Not the three years of law school and 27 years of family law and 14 years of mediation that you have completed. While I don't believe mediation is always a "win-Win", It should be. Great service you are providing.
Comment by Cynthia Tiano, Esq. on October 4, 2009 at 9:19pm
Our Peaceful Divorce Model, which has just received CLE approval, does not preclude parties and their lawyers from seeking court relief when absolutely necessary. This is its major distinction from Collaborative.

I agree there is no one size fits all. However, in my 27 years as a family lawyer, and the past 14 years exclusively mediating family cases (with lawyers) I haven't experienced any gender losing more than the other.

As a matter of fact, if done properly, I believe mediation is always a win-win, even if the case doesn't settle! :)

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