I was recently out walking and enjoying the warm weather and the beautiful fall colors. Looking at the trees from a different vantage point was analogous to one of my roles as a mediator and Collaborative divorce lawyer.
When I meet with my clients for the first time, I use that time to listen to their personal story and their perspective on what is happening for them. Once I understand where they are at, we can discuss where the client would like to go (their goals) and how they plan on getting there. This step is a critical in the process. Often the client has clear ideas on how they would like to see their issues resolved. They may have already decided how the property should be divided or how the children should be shared.
When I ask the client what is happening that they are unable to have the conversation they want to have with their spouse, and what is it that is blocking their ability to reach a resolution, the answer will inevitably be that they have diverging opinions as to what the outcome should be. We discuss what they imagine their spouse’s perspective to be. My role is to ask questions in a way that allows the client to see things from a different perspective and to consider other possibilities.
Had I taken a photograph of this birch clump from the side, the image would look much different, as would it had I been looking down at the tree from above. The birch clump is the same, but depending on the direction the photograph is taken, the resulting image is very different.
The advantages of both Collaborative Divorce and Mediation is that both spouses are able to share their perspective in a way that facilitates understanding which is imperative for reaching a resolution that will work for both spouses and their children.