Believe it or not, the most exasperating word a family law attorney can hear is MEDIATION. Why, because once most, not all, attorneys who practice primarily litigation involving dissolution of marriage and child support and custody issues get a case, they view them as a continuing stipend. The more court hearings they can force, the more money they can make. The more assets they can convince their client they are entitled to, whether true or not, the more conflict and angst they can conjure up and the more money they can ensure themselves during the long drawn out fight that accompanies the litigation fiasco. I have seen literally dozens and dozens of cases end in mindless and needless court battles, because the attorneys have created issues out of whole cloth. They have stirred the pot, like witches brew. Is their interest what is best for their client, or what is best for them? I am sorry to say, that in so many cases, my colleagues put their interests, ahead of their clients.
Because of this pretense marital cases can cost the husband and wife thousands of dollars. I was personally involved in one marital dispute in which the wife was represented by one of the top boutique marital dissolution law firms in Beverly Hills. There was a large corporation involved, which I represented, and the husband was represented by a two person well known law firm. The wife's law firm had two partners and several associates sitting around a conference table during the rented judge trial while the husband had one. The wife's attorneys' had her believing she could get ½ of the corporation and run it, when she had never stepped foot in it and her husband had been running it for years extremely successfully and with an independent board of directors. Telling her she would get to run the business and that her husband would do everything to steal money and keep her from getting anything was an abominable lie meant to exacerbate her already vicious feelings about her husband, with the only reason being the lining of the law firm's pockets.
I witnessed this Beverly Hills law firm charging well over $1,000.00 per hour for a three week trial and that was subsequent to my attempting to settle the corporate issues for a very fair amount of money and future participation in profits, which would have been huge, with her own accountant able to review all financial records of the company. I offered this settlement even before a trial was set. After the three week trial the wife's lead attorney came to me to settle the corporation's part of the case for $17MM after taxes were paid. This for a corporation that was, at that time showing a profit of well over $17MM the prior year and was growing at the enormous rate of twenty percent a year. My offer prior to trial was well over twice as much, but it was rejected and now the wife's attorney was coming to me with this ridiculous offer to settle.
You see, the firm had already exceeded $1MM in fees and I am quite confident did not want to finish the trial which had gone on for, as I wrote above, three weeks, because they knew their client was never going to be able to run the corporation, even though that was what they promised their client they would get for her. As much as I wanted to protect the wife from this disastrous settlement, I was representing the corporation and bound by ethical duty not to do so.
I cringed when I went to my client, the corporation, and told its board about my settlement, because I knew how incredibly low it was, but I accomplished my job. On the other hand the wife's law firm essentially through her under the proverbial bus. These kinds of stories unfortunately happen every day. It happens in all types of litigation, but more in family law than any other litigation.
So how do you avoid these tremendous fees and bad outcomes? You seek good mediators who have no skin in the game and who only care about doing one thing. That one thing is seeing to it that the parties reach a resolution of their case at the least possible cost, both financially and emotionally. As mediators we help guide you through the process of developing your own resolution. By being the master of your own destiny you own the process and decisions as opposed to attorneys and a judge. When you own the decision you feel better about yourself and, in many cases, your spouse or other party with whom you may be locked in conflict. This helps to take much of the emotion out of the mediation which is especially important when dealing with issues involving children insofar as you and your spouse may have years of co-parenting children well under the age of eighteen and continuing your relationship with your children's families.
Many times women feel more comfortable with a female mediator and men with a male mediator. This is why we have developed the concept of cross gender mediation. To avoid this preference issue, both a man and woman are offered to facilitate these cases at the cost of the usual single mediator. This company has as its major goal, keeping people who are at their most vulnerable condition, focused on their children first, if there are any, and their assets and liabilities as opposed to the unconstructive feelings that have lead them to this stage of their marriage, and to do so at a cost that will not deplete the parties bank accounts.