Peacemaking, Part 2

June 4, 2015

How Does Divorce Become Peacemaking?


Interest based negotiation


Divorce can become peacemaking by choosing the right process. Mediation and collaborative practices use a method of negotiation called “interest based” problem solving. It is very different from the traditional concept of negotiation which more often involves puffing, threatening and bullying.


         Interest based negotiation has these steps:

  1. Information gathering in a neutral way with full and complete voluntary disclosure
  2. Developing an understanding of interests. Each party being able to express their own interests and listen to the concerns of the other in a safe, confidential environment without reaction or criticism.
  3. Creating options to meet the interests of each as closely as possible.
  4. Choosing the best option together after analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  5. Commiting to the option chosen.

Interest based negotiation is the basis for balancing the interests of individuals and resolving conflict as it comes up whether as a part of divorce, in everyday situations or confronting habits of interaction that are no longer helpful. It is useful as a tool to keep relationships healthy and functioning because each party gets to understand themselves and their needs while considering the temperament and the needs of the other party. It is a tool for interconnection, to heal the edges of our separation from each other, whether during or after divorce or to prevent divorce.  


Interdisciplinary Coaching


         Family relationships are emotional, relational, financial as well as legal. Peacemaking processes take all of these aspects of experiences into account. Resolution incorporates a network of professionals who can help coach families through each of these areas in a targeted and efficient manner that meets the needs of each situation.


         The important thing is that the complexity of issues, concerns and experiences for our families is recognized and validated in the process and coaching is available for each aspect.


Unbundled Services


         Lawyers can now provide what is called “unbundled” services. That is, with informed consent on the part of the client, the attorney can perform discrete and separate parts of an ordinary representation without taking full responsibility for the whole case. That allows client empowerment to make decisions and perform certain tasks themselves. At this point a high percentage of people choose to go through a court process unrepresented, particularly in family law. This is very often due to the expense, but also often because they think lawyers will unnecessarily complicate it.


         Unbundled services include collaborative method, where lawyers are hired for purposes of settlement only. If the case goes to court, other attorneys will be hired to litigate. This frees the collaborative participants to fully engage in settlement without one eye on the courthouse.


         Another unbundled service provided by willing attorneys is as “consulting” attorney. That is just for the purposes of legal consultation, answering questions, giving opinions about what might happen in court, strategizing or preparing to represent themselves. Attorneys can be counselor, coach and advisor to assist parties going through the court process without formal legal representation. Attorneys can ghostwrite letters, contracts and court documents for clients. They can help clients plan for negotiation and engage in role plays for preparation.


         Attorneys can represent parties in mediation or help them prepare for it. I very often help clients prepare for divorce by putting together their financial information and analysis in my role as certified divorce financial analyst. I help people develop their offers and how to respond to an offer of the other party.


         These are all ways attorneys can assist clients to negotiate for themselves.


         There is also a lot that attorneys can do to help families prevent future conflict by setting up methods to address things before they develop. This is called Preventative Law. Some examples are regular “business” meetings between co-parents. Regular review of financials moving forward. Methods set out in the judgments on how future conflict will be resolved by coming back to the table first themselves and then with mediators or consensual processes before going to court.


Universal Characteristics of Peacemaking Legal Process.

  1. Respectful
  2. Safe
  3. Confidential
  4. Voluntary
  5. Balanced
  6. Honest
  7. Some degree of empathy and compassion


Peacemaking, Part 3

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