By John Goodwin of John G. Goodwin, Family Mediator/Collaborative Family Lawyer/Family Lawyer posted in Family Mediation on Saturday, May 20, 2017.
Mediation had grown steadily since its early days in Ontario because it works. It works for a number of reasons, among them the following:
The choice of mediation is a signal to the other spouse that a person wants to work co-operatively, collaboratively – they are looking for a win-win outcome, not a win-lose outcome.
I. People bring their best selves to the process and this makes the work easier.
II. Mediations are efficient – they typically last a few weeks or months – not months or years like adversarial processes do.
III. Regular meetings at relatively short intervals means that all parties are up to date and current with what is going on.
IV. The participants don’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing and recalling what they are working on.
V. The process itself is respectful and does not make the relationship any worse.
VI. Mediation has many ways of equalizing bargaining power.
VII. The cost of the work of collecting and organizing information and drafting the separation agreement is shared.
VIII. The lines of communication are shorter and, as a result, almost always better:
A. Many people have played a game around the dining room table where a message is whispered from one person to the next and it comes out the other end as garbled and hilarious. That is not an efficient, humane or cost effective way to deal with one of the most important and difficult situations a person will ever have to deal with.
B. The chance of misunderstanding is less with someone sitting across the table. Compare that to a message communicated:
1. by one spouse to their lawyer,
2. that lawyer puts the message in writing (maybe with a few inaccuracies and editorial comments),
3. that message is sent to the other lawyer,
4. that lawyer communicates the message to his or her client.
IX. We hear that 90% of communication is non-verbal and so being in the same room with the person you are working with is usually a huge help.
X. The good communication habits that are the basis of mediation can establish or revive good communication habits for the future.
XI. Mediation deals with all issues that are important to you – not just your legal rights and responsibilities. What about your concerns, hopes, expectations, priorities, beliefs, fears, values etc. – aren’t they just as, or perhaps more important?
Many years ago when family mediation was just getting started in Ontario, it was recognized as “A Better Way” and that still rings true today for all of these reasons and more.