Divorce is a time when people are flooded with emotion. The flood is unexpected and unwanted because the emotions are largely negative. Yet, folks are expected to make decisions which will govern the rest of their lives while all of these feelings swirl in their minds. I don’t know if you can see it in the picture, but there’s a car in the driveway to the left. I’m imagining the driver coming out of the house to go somewhere NOW, and being faced with driving through all of that standing water to get out. The driver doesn’t know what’s under the water, whether it’s safe, whether the car will be swamped. What they do know is that they have to be somewhere now and they have to use that car to get there. That’s what litigation feels like. It feels like having to make huge, important decisions under the pressure of time and without the luxury of gathering any last minute information necessary to make an informed decision, and often without having any control over the outcome. Settlements often occur on the eve of trial, or a person in a black robe makes the decision instead.
What if, instead, the driver knew about the water and knew that in a few hour’s or a few day’s time, they had had to be somewhere? They could wait and see if the water subsided. They could build a ramp or a bridge over the water. They could call a friend for a ride. They could call an Uber, Lyft or taxi. They could walk. They could postpone their appointment. They could call an engineer to advise them. They could do a lot of things because they would have the time to gather the necessary information, process it and make an informed decision. That’s what mediation and Collaboration feel like. They feel like having the time to reflect on what’s important. They feel like spending as much time as necessary to get the answer that’s right for the family. They feel like being able to ask that one last question to get the one piece of information that will make all the difference to the outcome. They feel like having the freedom to ask the person with the most pertinent knowledge their opinion. They feel like reality testing possible solutions until they find the one that makes the most sense.
If it were you, what would you rather do? Here in the Trenches.