What I’ve Learned as a Mediation Partner

Coming Into Agreement With The Help Of A Lawyer

“It may sound strange, but divorce is ultimately about agreements, unless things go terribly wrong.  It is often said, and it is true, that the great majority of divorce cases settle. This is for a lot of reasons, but I think the main one is that people who leave decisions about their children and their finances to strangers are, well, at the best baselessly idealistic and at most just plain irrational.  Judges who see couples in courtrooms for a couple of hours cannot possibly make better decisions about their children and their finances than the couples can. Most people understand this and so their first thought is to mediate their differences as amicably as possible.

Sometimes agreements come very easily and sometimes they feel as unlikely as the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup again.  When people need some help to get to agreements, the simplest and most cost effective method for resolving differences is through mediation.  Denver divorce mediation allows couples to talk through their differences in a neutral, facilitated, private environment where they can have as much time as they need and where their stress levels are reduced.  Mediation allows couples to be creative about how they resolve differences and tailor their agreements to their families and their unique situations. Courts are the exact opposite in every way.

However, there are limitations on mediation.  When people go into mediation with no knowledge about the law and no plan, their decisions are likely to reflect that.  They can come out with agreements that are frankly not very good and cause problems in the future. Part of the reason is that mediators are not supposed to give legal advice – they neutrally facilitate an agreement.

Most people want to know about the law, get counsel from someone with experience and objectivity, and have a strategy for mediation. On the other hand, they don’t want to have to commit to full representation from a lawyer, and for good reason.  They do not want the extra expense and they do not want the additional conflict that lawyers can cause.

I have learned that a little bit of attorney help is a good thing and too much attorney involvement can be a bad thing.  So, I developed a new service called ‘mediation partners’ to be a silent partner for clients who are committed to resolving divorce issues amicably and outside of courts. We offer clients only what they want and need.  We give advice, work on mediation plans, and if requested, help with court filings. We do not go to the mediation, or interact with the other side. Clients know exactly what we are doing and when, so there are no fee surprises.

I have learned that as difficult as divorce is on an emotional and financial level, it can be made so much worse when people have to litigate family issues.  Most people think that they only have two choices – litigation with an attorney or mediation without one. But there are other options – one of which is mediation with some legal support” (Willoughby).


Willoughby, K. R. Esq., Genesee Living Magazine.


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