Amongst the many good reasons to mediate this is an important one
By Melanie Nathan, February 08, 2013.
Same-gender (same-sex) relationships are through the fault of inequality in a “breakup” category of their own; and so when a relationship, whether a marriage, domestic partnership or cohabitation heads toward its end, couples must seek special help.
While seeking help through counseling, psychologists, or clergy, is always helpful, couples must remember that the latter do not substitute specialized legal assistance. Legal help, if sought early in the break up process, can often alleviate a great deal of misunderstanding and conflict, which in effect can also serve to help the relational aspect.
However one must be very careful that when obtaining legal advice, it is used appropriately, and when choosing a path to termination it is an effective one; in this vein a non litigious route at the outset may be critical, in most cases, to saving unnecessary cost and even to salvage what could be left of mutual concern for each other and solicitude for the interests of the children.
There are many ways to head toward the legal end of one’s relationship:-
1. The advice of a separate attorney:
2. The representation of a separate attorney;
3. The services of a neutral mediator, and
4. The services of a Collaborative law attorneys.
Attorneys are bound to follow the law and your legal advice will be precisely about what the law allows you. This may be unfair in the case of gay and lesbian couples where the law does not serve the best interests of both parties, equally.
Attorneys can provide you with advice and/or representation. Sometimes its a good idea to check in with more than one attorney. In many cases, especially where there is a not a high amount of assets, debt, support or serious custody issues, having a representing attorney can mean unnecessary costs. It may be enough to have a mediator manage the case and ensure each party has obtained separate attorney consultation, through the process, including the review of the settlement agreement.
I am personally very opposed to the Collaborative Law process for a number of reasons which I will save for a separate post. Suffice it for me to note that in most cases the process takes way too long, is exceedingly expensive and a luxury for the wealthy willing to spend money on an excessive amount of hand holding, some of which, I might add, I find counterproductive in any event.
The importance of mediation cannot be understated in the case of same-sex couples. A good mediator will help the parties honor the duration of the relationship in whatever forms it took, taking cognizance of the intention of the parties. Because of the limited and sometimes lack of rights under the law, couples may have gone through many incarnations of legal status over the years of long term relationships. Reconciling these varying milestones having being entered into over the years by a couple, which may often be a combination of cohabitation, partnership agreements, marriage or domestic partnerships, requires a creative and understanding mediator.
All cases are unique and none should be treated in cookie cutter fashion. Imperative to success is early intervention, a mediator who understands the LGBTI-centric issues and is willing to provide full management to the case, including working with outside consulting attorneys where necessary.
Melanie Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I provide a free consultation on the phone for each party to see if the case is suitable for mediation.