Sit in a courtroom and listen…

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…and you will inevitably hear the judge refer cases to mediation.

I was in a courtroom today and heard the proceedings in a case that was being heard before my client’s matter.  It involved a daughter who wanted to attend a certain college but who could not agree with her parents (and the parents were not in agreement either) about where she should attend and how it should be financed.  Three different people, three different ideas about what was best for this child and one judge who has the authority to decide, if the case gets so far.

As a parent, I thought: “what a shame that the communication structure in this family has broken down so drastically that each party is willing to let someone outside of the family make such a life-defining decision.”  As a mediator, I thought: “this case should be mediated.”

The judge agreed.  He has the legal authority to make the call in the case but he referred the parties to mediation and advised them to attempt the process before a trial that he has scheduled for two months from now.

The parties now have a choice:  they can spend the next two months exchanging school and financial documentation in anticipation of presenting evidence and testimony at a trial that will happen and a decision rendered months from now, delaying the child’s college education further and spending funds that could assist in paying the tuition for said education; or the parties can schedule an appointment with a mediator and can conceivably come to an agreement immediately.

What would you suggest that they do?








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