Some people think New Year’s Resolutions are childish or meaningless. We look at them as goals or aspirations, in this case, to better our behavior. Parties who are considering mediation or collaborative law (I will refer to these two separate methods of practicing family law as “ADR” (alternative dispute resolution)) to resolve their family law matter should resolve to proceed in this process with the following aspirations:
- I will treat the other person in my process with respect. Some may wonder why I bother to mention this rather obvious point. I mention it because it is worth mentioning. There are several cornerstones of ADR and treating one with respect is one of them. The ADR process is difficult. Underlying the process are feelings, many times of disappointment, anger, frustration, guilt and other feelings that, without putting them in check, can come out in the process. While it would be unreasonable to expect that at times during the process these feelings might appear and interfere, temporarily, with the process. Resolve yourself to be aware of your feelings and not to let them interfere with the ADR process as best as you can.
- I will agree to not threaten litigation, as a weapon to attempt to force the other party into resolving an issue. Threatening litigation, or threatening to go to court, is counter-intuitive to the ADR process. As mentioned before, the ADR process can be difficult at times. However, rather than mentioning litigation when the process gets bogged down, keep working on resolution and finding a solution that both parties can agree to. Recognize that at the end of a successful ADR process, neither party will be thrilled with all aspects of the settlement or agreement. Both need to give and take. You will not get everything you want (you certainly will not get everything you want in court, either).
- I will work towards reaching a resolution of my disagreement that works for both parties, when considering the interests that both of us have. The ADR process is an interests-based process, not a results-based process. The process begins with both parties stating what their interests are. The parties hearing each other, not as to what they need to resolve the process, but what their interests and concerns are, properly frames the process as you begin.
- I will cooperate in my ADR process and make full disclosure of information. Nothing throws the ADR process into chaos more easily than a party not being transparent in disclosing information during the mediation or collaborative law process. Full disclosure and transparency are another cornerstone of these processes.
- I will commit to allowing my partner in these processes the time to digest the information received in reaching agreements. We all make decisions in our own time. In many instances, one party is a “quicker” decision maker, while the other party takes more time to reach decisions. Frustration by the quicker decision-maker is common. Often, in a relationship, one party assumes the financial duties in the relationship, and that person can be more comfortable in making decisions in the ADR process, because that party has more familiarity and comfort with the financial issues in the marriage. The person who has assumed this role during the relationship needs to be patient in allowing the other party time to become more comfortable with these issues. Many times, the more unfamiliar party needs the assistance of a financial expert to help that party come to a comfort level with these matters. That is totally a normal part of the process.
Keeping these resolutions during the process is essential to reaching a successful resolution. Let us know if we can assist or further discuss this with you. We are anxious to assist.
Happy New Year!