Visiting with my father-in-law recently, our conversation turned to a recollection from my litigation past. Time and resources are always at a premium in the courtroom, and judges can lose patience with litigants whom they perceive as unreasonable or wasting the court’s time. This couple on this day, 12 – 15 years ago, rang that bell. They were standing in front of the court using their time to argue over family photographs. When the judge’s patience expired, he ordered the couple to come back after lunch with the photos. Upon their return, he ordered his bailiff to lock them in a jury room and not to allow them out until they settled the division or 5 pm closing time. Having other matters to attend to, I did not stick around to see the outcome. We all had a good laugh at the judge’s ‘Solomonic’ wisdom, which came at the expense of the couple.
And then, my father-in-law asked me if I have ever done such a thing in my mediation and collaboration practice. My answer was, “no. what the judge did was ‘coercive’. He placed the couple under duress and implied threat [authority of the court/ power of the bailiff] to compel cooperation. I never use coercion or duress to manufacture agreements.” From the look on his face, this response surprised and puzzled him. But the key to the distinction is the difference that a Peacemaker makes.
The litigated divorce process is adversarial by its nature. Once the two “sides” present their “case”, the court makes decisions for the disputants based on the evidence and law curated and presented by their attorneys. The law and the court, through the attorneys and the judge, ‘impose’ outcomes upon the disputants, whose cooperation and compliance are compelled under threat of further court action, monetary and other sanctions up to and including quasi-criminal actions and sanctions. It often leaves one or both disputants highly dissatisfied. Too often, these orders and judgments are weaponized by one or both of the couple, each of whom intently monitor the other’s compliance with the orders they prioritize, using the orders as threat against each other, to demand compliance with their own priorities, while working to skirt, undermine or ignore those orders they find inconvenient.
And the areas of past conflict which the law, the attorneys and the court did not or cannot address, like religious training for the children, funding the children’s college education, protecting the children’s inheritance rights, remain unresolved areas of conflict going forward.
Is it any wonder then that they soon find them back in court trying to change/’fix’ the court outcome? Is it any wonder none of this gives them “peace”?
It does not have to be that way.
At Family Peacemaker we help our clients stop viewing the conflict as a fight and begin viewing the matter as a set of problems to solve. No longer adversaries, the couple is presented the opportunity to partner with each other based on their personal and family priorities. They have the power of “No”, meaning nothing happens unless and until they say “Yes”. Outcomes are shaped by themselves, based upon what is best for themselves and their family, considering their own unique circumstances. No one is coerced or placed under duress to get to “Yes”.
Studies confirm when conflict is resolved in this manner, the outcomes are more durable, and the family more satisfied with them. Having shaped the agreement themselves, each has ownership of the commitment the agreements contain, understand what they gave and what they received in the agreement, and accept their responsibilities to follow through on their “Yes”. No one needs to come back to ‘fix’ what is not broken.
Important Goals of Peacemaking
The main goal of the peacemaking approach is to give each person the tools they need to begin working together again. Success in the future brings peace.
Thousands of clients have proven that couples know best how to resolve their concerns. Thousands of couples have proven they could resolve their family/marital concerns. Given tools, the information, the knowledge and professional support they need, couples make their own, lasting, peace.
At Family Peacemaker, we help families get back in control of their family decisions and their family finances. We help spouses see things from each other’s perspective and provide tools and assistance to help them start focusing on problem-solving and solutions.
We help couples go forward in their new lives with a history of success in solving problems and reaching agreements again. We help answer the questions and address the concerns around which the conflict formerly revolved or may be problems in the future, leaving the future clear to move on.
Our Peacemaking attorneys and staff are trained in mediation, collaboration, and general facets of working with people. We guide families and assist them to reach outcomes tailored to their individual family situation and circumstances. We guide couples through a non-adversarial and problem-solving oriented process. We work with couples to obtain family-oriented outcomes that work for each family’s specific needs so that everybody’s boat floats. We are win-win oriented.
Our attorneys and staff at Family Peacemaker are dedicated to helping our clients through the divorce process in the most peaceful way possible using the Collaborative Divorce or Mediation processes to help couples resolve their matter and find peace.
Contact us to schedule a Free Consultation appointment.