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January 25, 2011

Family Disputes: Will A Legal Outcome Be The Best Outcome?

When we find ourselves in a dispute with our spouse, or sibling, or anyone else, we often want to talk to a lawyer to find out our legal rights.  But before you take the step to see a lawyer consider a question Chip Rose—mediation and Collaborative trainer—asks his clients when they ask him what their legal rights are: “Why are you aiming so low?  Your legal rights may or may not be a good outcome for you.”

When we’re stressed, angry, scared, feeling threatened, grieving, nervous, or any of the responses to family disputes that people commonly get, we often focus on what outcome would make us feel better.  We might feel reassured or comforted if a lawyer tells us how much child support would be, or how a judge would approach valuing departed mom’s possessions. But in those discussions lawyers don’t usually point out that legal advice is a prediction, and we all know that predictions are not guaranteed outcomes. So if you choose to work with lawyers in a legal process you may end up with a very different outcome than predicted, and you risk getting an outcome that doesn’t meet your needs.

If you do decide to talk to a lawyer to find out your legal rights, keep in mind at least two things: 1) the lawyer is just guessing what will happen based on their past experiences, which may or may not end up being the outcome of your legal process, and 2) the legal process is only focused on bargaining a legal outcome, not on developing an outcome that might work well for you and well for the other people involved.

Mediation and Collaborative Practice are not outcome-driven legal processes, but instead are focused on having all the involved people gather information, develop options and negotiate an outcome they can live with.  The legal process offers only that lawyers will bargain an outcome, irrespective of how those outcomes might actually work in the long run.

We were blessed to have her to help us through the rough spots in our lives.

Unmani is truly a blessing for those who find themselves ready to work with their soon-to-be-ex to bring a mutually satisfactory, peaceful end to their relationship.  Animosity and belligerence are optional in our lives, and Unmani is adept at reminding us of that and keeping us true to our better selves.  She has that rare gift for being light-hearted and no-nonsense at once, which of course is just what one needs at a time like that.  We were blessed to have her to help us through the rough spots in our lives.

- Don G.
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