By Richard Solomon B.L.
When a family relationship breaks down, deciding how to allocate the family resources can be a difficult and emotionally charged problem. The traditional form of resolving such a problem has been through litigation in the courts. However, it is widely acknowledged that this approach is problematic. It is both expensive and time consuming and because it is adversarial in nature, it aggravates rather than minimizes the emotional aspects of the break down.
On the other hand, mediation offers a completely private and confidential way in which solutions can be found for allocating family resources. Instead of there being a winner and a loser, both parties can collaborate and walk away with a solution that they believe is fair because they, the parties, have constructed it.
My approach is to ask the parties or their legal representatives to brief me confidentially, in advance of the mediation, about the facts and issues as they see them. In that way, I have a working idea of the dispute before I meet with everyone. I may or may not speak to them privately in advance of the mediation.
When I do meet, I may have a joint session at the beginning or at any time, but mostly I work with the parties privately, shuttling between their rooms, to develop a constructive dialogue that focuses on solutions not recriminations.
Mediations proceed at their own pace. They give parties the opportunity not only to consider their business, property and personal financial issues but also how those issues may impact other, long term family matters such as the upbringing of the children or the welfare of family dependents. My experience in law and commerce as well as my interest in people allows me to understand the complex interplay between personal and financial issues that must be addressed in seeking a resolution to a dispute.
When a resolution is found, it must be committed to a written agreement that can be enforced through the courts thereby giving both parties the comfort of an enforceable agreement.