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Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Here’s an article from the New Straits Times (Malaysia) on divorce mediation.  Mediation is not just an American function, but global.  And the benefits are the same all over.

Speedy end to divorce plight via mediation

MALACCA, June 19, 2007:

After waiting for 1½ years for their divorce to be heard in court, they decided to appoint a mediator. Their marriage was dissolved in five hours.

Janice and her husband Ricky (not their real names) filed a divorce petition in 2003 and a date was set for the hearing at the Penang High Court in 2004.

The judge who heard their case three years ago had suggested that they appoint a mediator “in order to speed up the divorce process”.

The mediator’s role is to help the aggrieved parties find a solution to their problem as opposed to the adversarial approach of the court.

“I didn’t know what a mediator was at that time but agreed to appoint one after consulting my lawyer. It was supposed to be a cheaper and faster method,” said Janice, 35, a bank executive and mother of three.

She was devastated when she found lurid SMSes sent by another woman in her husband’s mobile phone and demanded an immediate divorce. She also sought custody of their children.

The couple thought that the only way of ending the marriage and contesting for the children’s custody was through the courts.

“If I had known about mediation earlier, I could have saved a lot of hassle.

“The 1½-year wait was a torture. I became frustrated and bitter worrying about my children. My work was affected and I turned into a walking zombie,” said Janice.

Two weeks later, they found a mediator.

“He was very professional. He called for a meeting with the two of us in a private conference room and heard both sides of our stories.

“About five hours later, we were able to settle our disputes. We also understood each other’s problems and apologised to each other. My ex-husband and I are friends now,”

They also decided to raise the children together.

Janice said before the appointment of the mediator, she and her husband were made to attend three marriage tribunal sessions before the case was heard in court.

“It was frustrating. The tribunal was dysfunctional. The sessions did not help.”

Instead of helping, she said, the officer told them: “Macam ini pun tak boleh settle sendirikah?” (Can’t you settle this matter yourselves?)

Janice would have paid at least RM5,000 if her divorce was settled in court compared with the mediator’s fee which was less than RM1,000.

Mediation and Confidentiality

A recent case in California has upheld the concept of confidentiality within the context of mediation.  In Wimsatt v. Superior Court (Kausch), the Appellate Division ruled that a client could not obtain and use their attorney’s mediation briefs (along with emails pertaining to the mediation) to pursue a malpractice claim against the attorney.  In  general, all communications relating to a mediation are confidential and cannot be used outside of mediation for any purpose (the main exceptions are the commission or contemplation of a crime or when the confidentiality would violate public policy or interest).

I encourage all of my clients to invoke their confidentiality rights in mediation.  Those rights were put into place to encourage parties to be as open as possible, so that paties can come to a resolution.

McGreevey Madness

Anyone sick and tired of these two folks divorcing?  I am.  And neither of them seem to want to shield their daughter from all of this.  When the love of money tops the love of children, we are all in trouble.

Boxing and Mediation

You don’t often think of boxing and mediation in the same thought, but here it is:

Top American boxing writer Michael Marley revealed a few minutes ago over at Boxingconfidential.com that Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank executives have just come out of the court-ordered mediation.

“The Manny Pacquaio Peace Talks, which began Saturday morning in Los Angeles with representatives of Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank sitting across the table from each other in a court-ordered mediation, seem to be making significant progress. So much so that TR and GBP agreed to resume their discussions on Monday morning,” reports Marley.

“Those close to the situation are saying that there has been some talk of the two giant promotional companies ‘sharing’ rights to Pacman bouts,” added Marley.

The report said mediation proceedings started at 9:30AM with a mediator “refereeing” then they took a lunch break, and then resumed with an afternoon session with concluded just before 6PM.

Marley was also able to get hold of Top Rank boss Bob Aru.

“I can’t talk right now,” Arum was quoted by Marley as saying, “but we are done for the day. Mediation will continue on Monday. That’s all I can say at this time.”

Mediation Survey Results

The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) recently conducted a survey of 126 U.S. corporate counsel and outside counsel.  They were asked their opinion about alternative dispute resolution.  Here are the results of the survey:

Rank of ADR methods (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
Method Corp. Counsel Law Firms Grand Total
Mediation 4.00 3.89 3.95
Early Case Assessment 4.00 3.37 3.69
Arbitration 2.74 3.76 3.25
Multi-step ADR Clauses 2.84 3.28 3.06
Internal ADR Training 2.67 2.99 2.83
ADR Training for Business Clients 2.12 2.55 2.34
Benefits of Mediation (1=Low, 5=High)
Reason Corp. Counsel Law Firms Grand Total
Cost Savings 4.22 4.37 4.30
Speed 4.09 4.36 4.23
Confidentiality 3.82 4.22 4.02
Reduced Discovery 3.87 4.10 3.99
Finality 3.77 3.96 3.87
Maintain Relationships 3.61 4.00 3.81
Improved Results 3.70 3.92 3.81

Mediation Loses a Star

Mediation, relatively speaking, is a new field or science (at least in the formal sense…people have been informally mediating disputes for millenia).  Last month, mediation lost one of its stars in Sam Kagel.  Mr. Kagel helped settle labor disputes primarily, including Longshoremen strikes and most notably, the NFL strike in 1982.  Mr. Kagel was 98 when he passed.  Rest in peace.