In the tale of King Solomon’s judgement, two women come before the King with an infant. They ask him to adjudicate on the matter of who is the rightful mother. Solomon wisely pronounces that since the women cannot agree on who the baby belongs to, they will cut him in half, literally splitting ownership.
Readers may recall that in the Bible story, one woman agrees to sever her ‘son’ yet the other is willing to relinquish ownership in order to keep his life. Through this judgement of Solomon, the rightful mother is revealed.
While the disputes I see as a solicitor don’t quite lead to a bifurcated baby, a comparison can be drawn between the destructive nature of competing claims of ownership that occur in some separations.
The most hostile separations often deal with arrangements for the children, deciding with whom they should live and how often they should see the other parent and if the parties are unable to find a way to agree these issues, the effects on the children can be irreparably harmful, long past signing the papers. It is also not uncommon for a couple to aim for an amicable divorce/ separation on account of their children, only to have the combative nature of litigation erode their sensible intent.
As a lawyer / mediator I realise that it is not easy for two people, both of whom are often in immense pain, to initially sit together in a room and try to work out what to do but in my experience it will more often than not lead to a better result than if they had gone through the courts.
Having to try to come to a harmonious agreement with someone who you probably feel anything but harmonious with is undoubtedly the harder thing to do but financial savings aside, the process of mediation also means that people have the opportunity to air some of their upsets and frustrations in a controlled environment. Rather than have their own version of a wise judge Solomon who does not know them pronounce what they are to do, a couple can be in charge of their own destiny and themselves decide how they should conduct their future lives.
Blake Morgan is supporting Family Mediation Week, which runs from 21st – 25th January 2019. Family Mediation Week aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
Our family law experts Christine Plews and Flora Grossman are both qualified family mediators and Christine is accredited by the Family Mediation Council. During a mediation they will provide legal and financial information in an impartial way to help you understand the options available to you. The choices and decisions are yours and the mediator will not make judgment about your individual or joint situation, nor provide advice on your ‘best interests’. They will help you both to reality test the options and discuss with you both which solutions might work best for you and your family. They often work with other professionals such as accountants and counsellors to enhance the process.
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