There is a lot going on the last couple weeks of December. Most people probably don’t want to hear about divorce during this time. It is a time of celebration, a time of showing generosity, love, friendship and joy. It is a very busy time but also a time for peace, calm and relaxation. For me I also appreciate this time of year because it is an opportunity to look back and reflect on the gifts and challenges of the year that has just passed, and a time to dream and imagine about the year to come.
I am thankful for the gifts of 2022. Since I was introduced to divorce mediation in 2003 I have been on a slow but steady path toward phasing out of litigating divorces and devoting all my attention to working with mediating couples. In 2020 I stopped taking litigating clients and was finally able to commit to a mediation only practice. Since then I have been winding down my remaining litigations and in 2022, while I had a few litigated court appearances, nearly all my work was done helping couples fashion their own divorces outside of Court. As I sit here writing I have one remaining litigated case that is set to be completed in early 2023.
So what exactly am I thankful for? I am thankful for all the couples that have found their way to my office, committed to finding a healthy path through their divorce. I am fortunate to work with couples who are wanting guidance through the process but are intent on treating each other with fairness and civility. The families I work with that have children are usually focused on co-parenting, allowing each parent’s relationship with the children to flourish, and minimizing the impact of the divorce on the children. Mediation attracts couples who are going through a difficult and challenging time, but who are committed to getting through it in a way that allows both of them to be okay on the other side. All these things allow me to be doing my job in a less stressful work environment. The families I work with benefit from this, but so do I.
Moving on to 2023 and what lies ahead. I look forward to saying goodbye to that final litigated case. That will close out a 30 year chapter of my life. Part of me will miss the lawyering, the work of advocating and convincing the Judge that the solutions my client is proposing are supported by the law and best for the family. I will miss the camaraderie in the Court hallways with my fellow attorneys as we did our work to settle cases and in the Courtroom as we argued whatever issues we could not resolve. I won’t miss the stress that most of my clients would feel as we waited for the Judge to render a decision. I won’t miss the high stakes and the many attacks that were part of each spouse’s efforts to get the results they wanted. I recognized that the Courts were needed when couples were unable to agree on things, but I often would feel like us attorneys had failed our clients when we couldn’t figure things out by working together and instead had to have the Judge step in and sort things out.
My excitement for the upcoming year is that I have found my place and I get to devote all my time and attention to a divorce process I believe in. The Courts should be there as a last resort when couples are unable to be reasonable with each other. Despite my realization of this, couples that are faced with divorce continue to opt for the litigated divorce instead of exploring mediation. I am excited to continue my work to change this dynamic. I look forward to connecting with professionals engaged in this work to best meet the needs of families going through divorce and to working with the families committed to doing things in a good way. What’s not to be excited about?