Why I Love Family Law Mediation

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Mediation | Comments Off on Why I Love Family Law Mediation

Why I Love Family Law Mediation

I have been involved in matrimonial litigation my entire legal career. Litigation can be intoxicating for an attorney, and I must admit that I enjoy the thrill of a hard fought court battle: the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the whole human drama. I am a very competitive person, and winning a trial or decimating a witness on cross-examination has always been and still is an adrenalin rush for me. I hate to admit it, but sometimes during a trial, I think to myself, “I can’t believe that I’m actually getting paid to have this much fun!”

There is, however, a problem. The problem is that, while matrimonial attorneys like myself may personally enjoy the excitement of combat in the courtroom, our aggressive “zealousness” often contributes to a needless destruction of our clients’ most important asset–family relationships. It is undeniable that “scorched earth” divorce litigation destroys families and often times irreparably harms or destroys the lives of innocent children caught in the middle. Custody litigation, for example, is destructive by its nature, and it almost always significantly impacts the lives of children. We’re not talking about money here…we’re talking about real life, human souls.

In 1995, I met a man named Harry Goodheart in Florida. Harry was a mediator, but not just any mediator. Harry was a top-tier, nationally known mediator with a lucrative practice, helping people resolve conflict in a way that ended with everyone being satisfied and no one being “destroyed.” Harry, who had an undiluted passion for mediation, introduced me to this “new” area of conflict resolution, and quite frankly, I was hooked rather quickly. Within a year, I attended my first comprehensive training course at the prestigious CDR Associates in Boulder, Colorado. Since 1996, I have participated in hundreds of mediations involving parents, children and very difficult family situations.

Some family law cases simply need to be litigated, and in those instances, I still do enjoy, as the attorney, the “thrill of the fight” and the excitement and adrenalin rush of litigation. As a mediator, however, there is no better adrenalin rush or feeling of professional satisfaction than when you are able to watch parents who have hated each other for years and have hardly said a word to each other, realize (at the same time) that there are other ways to resolve their conflict that do not involve mutual self destruction and the resulting harm to their children that contentious litigation undoubtedly produces. That point in a mediation process, where previous “mortal enemies” mutually decide to lay down their swords, clean up the mess they have made and begin to cooperate, is just as thrilling and satisfying as any “wicked” cross examination I have ever conducted.

I love to mediate because, at the end of the day, in some small way, I feel as though I was able to use my legal and litigation experience to help change a life or two for the better. Sometimes, during these mediations, I think to myself, “I can’t believe that I am actually getting paid to have this much fun!”