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Is your Mediator a “Bungling Idiot”?

Kalamazoo Divorce Lawyer Blog by Jeff Murphy

Now there is an interesting title for a man who makes his living as a divorce mediator!

One of my mediator colleagues told me the other day that a former client of hers had been heard at the Family Court telling the referee that she (the mediator) hadn’t calculated his portion of his wife’s retirement plan to get the maximum for him.

Since the amount wasn’t to his best advantage, then the mediator was incompetant and “a bungling idiot”.

So, why do I want to tell you about this? Well, if you’re looking to mediate your divorce instead of hiring a gun-slinging lawyer to take your spouse to the cleaners, then you need to know some of the rules and expectations.

The idea of early stage divorce mediation is to give the parties a non-threatening space to negotiate their own settlement between them with the process facilitated by a NEUTRAL mediator. Emphasis on NEUTRAL.

A mediator should not offer an option that gives one side an advantage over the other. That would be favoritism.

The goal of mediated settlements is fairness and equity, not perfection, and certainly not obtaining the maximum for one of the parties – the kind of maximum a party might get if he or she spent thousands of dollars in court.

And that’s the problem with pushing for the “maximum”. Unfortunately too many lawyers will tell you that you can get more in litigation than in a mediation. What they don’t tell you is you have to line their pockets first, (and that amount might be equal to the amount of the “maximum” you finally get). They also don’t tell you that you might lose, or worse – that you might poison and destroy your relationships with your ex and your children.

So, be careful what you fight for.

By the way, in the story my colleague told me, it was the client who had insisted on the method used to calculate what he was to get, not the mediator or even his spouse. When he found out he might get more in court, he conveniently forgot who the “bungling idiot” really was.


Jeff Murphy

Jeff Murphy is a trained mediator and an attorney with over 35 years of business, civil and commercial legal experience. He was born and raised in New York CIty where he attended Columbia and Fordham. He ventured westward to join The Upjohn Company years ago and served as Senior Counsel… MORE >

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