I recently mediated a very difficult case in which the primary issues centered on the parties’ relationship with one another and the impact of that relationship on their very young children. As most often occurs in these always stressful mediations, the back-and-forth meetings and discussions with these parents resulted in often grudging concessions and inch-by-inch forward progress.
Finally, in trying to settle a visitation date, time and location exchange, we hit the “proverbial wall”, at which time one the parties’ attorneys (both parties’ attorneys in this case were excellent, and in that regard, their clients were fortunate) could no longer restrain himself as he continued to argue to me that the other parent’s position was “not logical…there is no logic in their position!”. I listened patiently and when the attorney was finished, I asked him this question:
Can you tell me when “logic” was ever involved in a family court case?
As I have repeated many times over the years, and certainly many times during my family law mediation practice, every case inside a family courtroom is driven by emotions – animosity, mistrust and issues of control run rampant during mediation sessions and certainly outside and inside the courtroom. I’m referring, of course, not just to the litigants, but also to their attorneys. Consequently, I have yet to encounter a single mediation conference where “logic” had anything to do with the settlement or impasse reached in the case.
To the family law attorney: please do your clients a tremendous favor and tell them that the family courtroom is the most imperfect place for decision-making on the planet. And let me add the following to the mix: