The Spirit of Mediation
Most researchers and practitioners in alternative dispute resolution modalities have accepted that mediation, whether open and or closed, is an optional branch of the current family court system. It may be beneficial to explore concrete avenues of change where families facing separation, divorce and custody issues are not linked to court systems but rather to something new– for example, Family Change Centers,that fall under the domain of a new Ministry that encompasses ADR modalities. This may be timely, effective and a more humane process allowing for access to justice for all the parties involved. The current adversarial process needs to be radically changed as it only fuels the conflict and divides families that are already experiencing distress and uncertainty. The experts and scholars in the arenas of family, divorce, and custody issues could be utilized outside the court systems, through the Family Change Centers, as an example, and other ADR organizations.
Courts have become part of our culture without taking any responsibility for the consequences for its inadequacies. Mediators witness painful dialogue and the effects of litigation which pivots of one parent against another leaving the children in the middle, with long lasting residual effects. Family courts, including The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, are ill equipped to handle complex, diverse and emotional issues that accompany a family breakdown. We can navigate change and help build better systems for family disputes that teach children problem solving skills while keeping them out of family court. Consequently, this may help children focus on education, while easing the burden of the family breakdown. Perhaps now is the time to craft new policies and laws in a manner that permits family conflicts to be addressed with dignity, independent of the family court system. It is time to take families out of court.
The art of mediation has nurtured peaceful solutions, mutual and respectful understandings, transformation, and consciousness raising. Whatever circumstances have precipitated the disintegration in a relationship, constructive conversations have essentially broken down and parties seek safety, to discuss their pain and pave the way back to their personal truth. As families looked to courts for answers, many came to learn that the justice system has little to do with justice, adding more stress, pain, separation and few solutions.
Mediation started a revolution, working from the ground up, now becoming more accepted and validated worldwide. However, in order to begin restructuring the family court system this may require changing the biases and assumptions we hold, before we can act as catalysts for more change.
The spirit of mediation encompasses authenticity and working from the heart are integral qualities at the core of mediation. Mediation is an ancient art – dating back to the Minoans –much like a tapestry; it’s the weaving together of people in harmonious dialogue. The spirit of mediation is phenomenal and life changing as it embraces all cultures, beliefs and traditions, languages and nationalities. It is a space for integration rather than separation as people realize we are equal when we reach meaningful healing. It is a privilege for mediators to be in the space and to observe and facilitate healing. All mediators have a desire to contribute to peace in the world and this important work opens up these channels.
We need to better our dialogue between us and explore innovation, and as mediators open ourselves to the future possible enlightened spiritual paths that challenge the status quo. With this in mind one may question when, how, and who will ignite the changes to revamp the outdated family court system.