Divorce Mediation is Divorce for Grown-Ups: Kelly Grows Up
20 Years of Family Law
I have been practicing family law for 20 years. I’m not a baby anymore.
This isn’t my first rodeo, and I am not foolishly optimistic. Divorce happens. I’m not going to preach that “Marriage takes two”. Of course it does, but sometimes, really, one person IS the cause of the divorce. Certainly, in many cases, there is always someone who is the bigger asshole.
So, obviously because of assholes and such, divorce mediation may not work for you, and you gotta get yourself a hired gun. But be careful, because personally, I think the stress of family law kills good family law attorneys.
The stress of family law also turns many of us into assholes.
If you can try mediation, you really should. I do it because in mediation, I can remove myself from the emotions and cyclical blame-game and help everyone move on, at a fraction of the cost, and never have to be an asshole!
Hollywood LOVES Nasty Divorces
Divorce Mediation Divorce for Grownups
For some morbid reason (schadenfreude), our culture has an unhealthy fascination with divorces. Because of movies like “Kramer v. Kramer” and “War of the Roses”, people out there EXPECT conflict and cold-hearted lawyers when going through a divorce. Kudos to Noah Baumbach in telling a best-selling divorce story that doesn’t focus on fighting. If you haven’t seen Marriage Story – GO.
Whenever I discuss my career path with my peers, this is their first question: “What is the NASTIEST divorce you’ve handled?” EVERYBODY loves a divorce lawyer for their stories!
Divorce war stories are the modern Coliseum bloodbath.
Everyone wants to hear a story. Fighting is a rush of adrenaline, delicious! Dispute resolution is ever so boring, bland. Yawn.
Mediation = Maturity
I completely understand this erroneous thinking, because I was once a drama queen. But guess what? I became a mother, and I grew up. When I started my legal career in 2000, I couldn’t imagine any other path but litigation. Why would people choose transactional work (drafting contracts, laws and such) over the courtroom? The courtroom is a party: lawyers doing their dance, Judges with all their power. It was scintillating, delicious, an absolute high. I started out in general litigation – insurance defense, employment disputes, construction defect. Lots of depositions, motions, deadlines and winning. Like any other addict, I took it up the next level and in 2005, jumped to FAMILY LAW litigation.
Stakes aren’t necessary higher (most people don’t have as much money as big corporations), but the emotions certainly are. After 15 years of litigation, I discovered in mediation, I could provide a better service/education for much, much less money. I can serve more people instead of blindly taking one side – every good divorce lawyer knows there are three sides to every story.
Divorce Mediation Isn’t For Pansies; It’s for Grownups
There are litigators out there that shun the word “mediation”, equating it with “weakness” and “incompetence”. I used to be that litigator.
I’m not Anne of Green Gables. Or Annie. No, the sun probably won’t come out tomorrow, and your spouse probably is hiding more than his affair with Daisy from you.
I don’t walk around with Panglossian dreams of unicorns and rainbows. I know that most people, when given the chance, would shit on you and walk away. People are shit. I’m a Jaded mandarin.
I do know, however, that marriage is a system of complicated gears and emotions, cause and effect. You have something do with its demise. Even if it’s the fact that you make lousy decisions in a life partner. We all make lousy decisions sometimes, and this article explains why.
You are responsible. Once you accept this, through the help of friends, family or a mental health professional, you can move on.
Divorce Isn’t Rocket Science. It is 99% Emotion, and 1% Law.
Divorce law isn’t rocket science. It’s not Tax Law, or Corporations. Divorce law is EASY. It’s the navigation of the psychological stuff that comes with this area of law that’s HARD. And if you can master the delicate emotions, you can navigate the parties to a resolution.
Collaborative Divorce is Strong and Smart.
Divorce lawyers who choose a more collaborative way to practice aren’t weak or dumb. The cases I mediate have more conflict than some of the ones I litigated in early 2000’s. Sometimes people don’t talk to each other, and I go through boxes and boxes of tissues.
Stop viewing mediation as something weak and impotent. You’re wrong. Divorce mediation is for strong, financially-savvy grownups.
By the way, about 95% family law cases settle before trial. Even after you spent 100 million on fees, your case will probably settle. Start smart not dumb, early not late.
Selfie Culture Promotes Drama and Falling Out = Immaturity
How many times have the Kardashians gotten married/divorced/remarried? Who cares? Our culture is diseased by consumerism and technology. Sure, it’s simplified a lot of our daily lives. We never have to leave the house to get food, sex, or news. But it’s damaged these new generations beyond repair.
Children now determine their own self-worth by the amount of “Likes” they get on TikTok. The TikTok app is just idiots doing stupid shit to get likes. It’s ridiculous and yet mesmerizing, akin to watching a bad accident on the freeway: You simply cannot peel your eyes from the destruction.
I have heard people brag about how much their divorces cost. I was at a cocktail party when one famous plastic surgeon sidled up to me and said, “I spent nearly $650,000 on my divorce. Can I buy you a drink?”
Spending $650,000 on divorce attorneys and experts is dumb. Bragging about it? Hebetudinously obtuse. If you are foolish enough to equate your value to how much you can pay a divorce lawyer, I have plenty of referrals for you. Bad divorce lawyers love themselves some victims for clients. Inform yourself.
Divorce Mediation is Divorce for Grownups
I get it. You’re hurt. Your trust is broken and you are in pain. A lot of you, under the guise of, “I just want what I’m entitled to”, just want the pain to stop.
This is where I ask you to do some work to prepare for your divorce. Can you do that? Instead of immediately lawyering up and serving the other side, can you two take a moment to step back and focus on restructuring your family?
It takes emotional maturity. Here is a good article that explains emotional maturity. When we are hurt, we turn back into children. You can handle your divorce like a grownup. Divorce mediation is divorce for grownups.