A very well prepared mediation and a happy mediator.
One of the biggest barriers to resolution a mediator will confront is lawyers who are have not prepared their case for mediation.
Not to long ago I was mediating a case for two excellent family law lawyers, Mandy Kimmons and Emily Neal. They had a big case involving just about every family law issue raised in Stickland’s book! We were scheduled for a full day, and I had reserved a lot of time prior to mediation to review everything that was sent to me.
The lawyers had engaged extensive settlement negotiations, in writing, and had sent me copies of this correspondence, along with their supporting documents. One of the lawyers had created a marital asset spreadsheet detailing all marital assets, pre-marital portions, separate property, and it was all summed up for me. It was a nice asset division worksheet, but not as nice as the Settlyd worksheet (I have reason to be a bit partial!)
In my preparations I was able to whittle down the contested issues to 3; and they were the 3 biggest ones! But as the parties had done such a good job of defining their positions, we spent very little time on anything else but the 3 biggies.
What made the (difficult) negotiations productive and successful, besides being very well organized, is that there were no “unknowns”. All disputed facts and valuations were supported by some kind of reasoned evidence, albeit to which the parties were not in agreement, but at least I had something with which to negotiate.
It took a little over 6 hours, but at the end of the day both parties were unhappy and the matter settled! We lawyers call this a success!
Which brings to mind Cooperative Practice and the Win-Win solutions that are more appropriate (in my opinion) for families. Look for a future blog about Cooperative and Collaborative practice and finding Win Win solutions!
Guy Vitetta, Charleston