Mediation and Tools for Forgiveness

By Melanie Nathan, January 26, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 10.23.02 AMSo here is how it happened.  A friend referred a couple to me to mediate their divorce.  I had yet to meet with the couple when the friend saw fit to issue his personal apologetic caveat:

“If anyone can mediate these two, Mel, its you. I apologize ahead, though, they are extremely contentious and very difficult., so much anger, I hope you get passed the first session,  and will forgive me!”

Well always up for a challenge, and of course understanding that professionally I could not rely on the word of the referral source, I would have to ascertain for myself if they would work for mediation.

It came time for the first session. My protocol is to explain the mediation process, take questions and then to dive into the urgent issues that may require immediate resolution, such as transition parenting plans and interim support.

When the pair arrived at my office, they looked forlorn, defeated, sad and a sense of bitter anger gripped the air. We sat down in an atmosphere that could be cut by a chainsaw.

I started the session a little differently this time, and reaching into my pocket, I pulled out two coins – gold in color – made of a material called BU.  I placed one in front of each of the parties and said the following:

“ I am not sure if you recognize the face of the man on these coins – it is Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and former South African President, Nelson Mandela.  You probably know exactly who he is (this was a couple years ago, before he died) and you probably know that peace came to entire nation, in what might otherwise have been a bloodbath, because this man, despite his own bitterness and 27 years in prison, forgave.   It could not have been easy to do, but he put his nation in front of his own needs and for that he became known as The Father of The Nation, Tata Madiba. We know forgiveness can be done.

I am asking you each to hold onto one of these coins, which is my gift to you. And to consider the metaphor – you will see the inscription around his face– it says “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – A long walk to freedom.” Your 3 children comprise your nation and you will have to find ways to move into a space where you can put their interests ahead of yours – ahead of what you each have been through in this relationship.  It can be done – forgiveness!“

Of course, forgiveness is critical, and we all talk about it for mediating couples all the time. In this case the symbol of Mandela, represented by a face on a coin, seemed to have a magical impact. It was is if they breathed a collective sigh of relief in that moment of holding their newly acquired coins, and everything became relatively relaxed in that room. The ice was broken and the long road opened to an attainable benchmark.

The tool put a face to the fact that indeed forgiveness can be accomplished. Whether actual forgiveness is ever realized or not,  matters less than the very consciousness about it,  and its possibilities. Hence its path as goal, is in and of itself a helpful concept, as it opens the door to productive discussions and provides the ability to recognize when anger is getting in the way of settling the issues.

I have now started to use the coins and the legacy story as a standard tool in my practice. These coins are sold between $8 to $15 each depending on quantity.

Of course it is easy for me to do because I provide communication and public relations services to the South African Gold Coin Exchange, which owns the worldwide rights to distribute all Nobel Peace Prize Laureates on coins and medallions. Most coins/medallions are pure silver and gold and are limited edition collectibles, which range from $250 to $4,000, and include former President Nelson Mandela,  His Holiness the Dalai Lama,  Aung San Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel, and others.  However these special give away gifting coins are much cheaper, and cost between $8- $15 each plus shipping from the U.S.A., depending on how many ordered.

To find out more please contact nathan@privatecourts.com

Advertisements

Will Texas Supreme Court Allow Same-Sex Couples to Divorce

The arduous road of inequality when States legislate against same-sex marriage

By Melanie Nathan, August 31, 2013.

IMG_6030We have wondered how the Courts around the country would start to handle the same-sex marriage petitions for dissolution, in States where same-gender marriage has been outlawed by specific legislative bans, such as the one in Wyoming. We have thought that some divorcing couples may find themselves caught in limbo, as divorce depends on domicile and jurisdiction.  One must have resided for a period  of time, raging upward of from 3 months, in the State and County where one files for divorce. So what happens if the State one lives in does not recognize one’s same-sex marriage.  Does that mean one or the  other would have to move residence to a State that does recognize such marriage? One would then have  to reside there for some months, before petitioning for a divorce.  And does that mean if you are unable to move because of jobs and the usual reasons for not wanting to move, that you can never get a divorce?

Texas Supreme Court is about to hear a same-sex divorce case, in the first test of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling.  The Texas Supreme Court will soon determine whether a same-sex couple legally married in another state can be granted a divorce in Texas.

The case involves two Austin women and two Dallas men seeking a divorce.  Attorney General Greg Abbott argues Texas law forbids any action recognizing or validating same-sex marriages obtained out-of-state.  The couples argue divorce is a private matter that would not obligate Texas to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.  They believe that if Texas is able to deny the right to divorce then the state’s ban on same-sex marriage should be overturned.

The court will hear oral argument on November 5.  See Chuck Lindell, Texas Supreme Court Takes Same-Sex Divorce Case, Austin American-Statesman, Aug. 23, 2013.

The Wyoming Court was faced with the issue:-

In June, 2013, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couple that legally married in Canada can get a divorce under Wyoming law. The unanimous ruling reversed a lower state court’s decision which had dismissed the divorce petition for lack of jurisdiction.

Wyoming law defines marriage as a contract between one man and one woman.  A couple who sought a divorce after having been legally married in Canada had their case dismissed by the  trial court on the grounds that Wyoming does not recognize same sex marriage.  The case was appealed based on a statute which recognizes marriages legally contracted in the state where they were contracted.  The Wyoming Supreme Court denied same sex marriage opponents the right to intervene, and reversed the trial court on limited grounds.  Below is a copy of the Supreme Court decision.

The case did not deal with the constitutionality of the anti-same- sex marriage law itself, but relied on a Wyoming Statute, Wyo. Sec. 20-2-111, which was presumed to be constitutional.

The crux of the case rested on:

“The pivotal question is whether the fact that this is a same-sex couple strips the district court of the subject-matter jurisdiction it would otherwise enjoy to entertain a divorce proceeding.”  The district court had  found dispositive § 20-1-101, defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. Since a same-sex couple is incapable of entering into a marriage as defined by § 20-1-101, the district court had reasoned there was no marriage to dissolve.

However the appeal now held that in doing so, the district court did not give proper respect to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-1-111 (LexisNexis 2009), which provides that ” [a]ll marriage contracts which are valid by the laws of the country in which contracted are valid in this state.” Obviously, the district court’s determination that, despite a valid Canadian marriage, no valid marriage exists under Wyoming law, runs afoul of this statute. The district court’s ruling thus creates a conflict between § 20-1-101 and § 20-1-111. We do not agree that such a conflict exists in the context of a divorce proceeding.”

It was finally held that the couple Paula and Victoria could seek their divorce in Wyoming.  The Court held that they “are not seeking to live in Wyoming as a married couple. They are not seeking to enforce any right incident to the status of being married. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are seeking to dissolve a legal relationship entered into under the laws of Canada. Respecting the law of Canada, as allowed by § 20-1-111, for the limited purpose of accepting the existence of a condition precedent to granting a divorce, is not tantamount to state recognition of an ongoing same-sex marriage. Thus, the policy of this state against the creation of same-sex marriages is not violated.”

It would seem that when it comes to other States the statutes of the particular states will have to be examined closely. Perhaps in the future, for some States,  as I have remarked before, the Constitutionality of laws banning same-sex marriage, may well find its test through an opening  via dissolution proceedings.

HERE IS THE DECISION:-

Page 153
253 P.3d 153 (Wyo. 2011)
2011 WY 90
Paula CHRISTIANSEN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
Victoria Lee CHRISTIANSEN,

Appellee (Defendant). No. S-10-0252.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
June 6, 2011
Page 154

Representing Appellant: Tracy L. Zubrod of Zubrod Law Office, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming; Mary Elizabeth Galvan of Galvan & Fritzen, Laramie, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: No brief filed.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

GOLDEN, Justice.

[¶ 1] Paula Christiansen and Victoria Lee Christiansen are both residents of Wyoming. They were legally married in Canada in 2008. Paula Christiansen filed an action for divorce in Wyoming in February 2010. The district court determined it did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain an action to dissolve a same-sex marriage. Accordingly, the district court dismissed the action. We reverse and remand for the reinstatement of the divorce proceeding.

ISSUE

[¶ 2] The narrow issue in this appeal is whether a Wyoming district court has subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain a divorce action to dissolve a same-sex marriage lawfully performed in Canada.[1]

DISCUSSION

[¶ 3] The facts are simple. Paula and Victoria were validly married in Canada and seek a divorce in Wyoming, where they reside. The district court, after engaging in a review of the pertinent statutes, dismissed the action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The district court reasoned that ” the jurisdictional grant to dissolve marriages is premised on the definition of marriage.” Since Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-1-101 (LexisNexis 2009) defines a marriage, in pertinent part, as ” a civil contract between a male and a female person,” the district court determined

Page 155

” the Wyoming Statutes do not grant the Court jurisdiction to dissolve a same-sex marriage.”

[¶ 4] We disagree with the district court’s conclusion. First, we emphasize that the issue before this Court is limited to whether a district court has subject-matter jurisdiction to dissolve a same-sex marriage validly solemnized in Canada. Subject-matter jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong. Granite Springs Retreat Ass’n, Inc. v. Manning, 2006 WY 60, ¶ 5, 133 P.3d 1005, 1009 (Wyo.2006). Subject-matter jurisdiction is essential to the exercise of judicial power. Id. at 1009-10. If a court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction, it lacks any authority to proceed. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Kunz, 2008 WY 71, ¶ 6, 186 P.3d 378, 380 (Wyo.2008). The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction involves a question of law, and our review is de novo. Brown v. City of Casper, 2011 WY 35, ¶ 8, 248 P.3d 1136, 1139 (Wyo.2011).

[¶ 5] In determining whether the district court has subject-matter jurisdiction in this case, we begin by noting that district courts are endowed with broad subject-matter jurisdiction. District courts in Wyoming are courts of superior and general jurisdiction. Urbach v. Urbach, 52 Wyo. 207, 224, 73 P.2d 953, 960 (1937). They derive their judicial powers from the Wyoming Constitution:

The judicial power of the state shall be vested in the senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, in a supreme court, district courts, and such subordinate courts as the legislature may, by general law, establish and ordain from time to time.

Wyo. Const. art. 5, § 1. They have original jurisdiction over all cases, excepting only cases placed within the exclusive jurisdiction of another court:

The district court shall have original jurisdiction of all causes both at law and in equity and in all criminal cases, of all matters of probate and insolvency and of such special cases and proceedings as are not otherwise provided for. The district court shall also have original jurisdiction in all cases and of all proceedings in which jurisdiction shall not have been by law vested exclusively in some other court[.]

Id., art. 5, § 10. Specific to this appeal, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §

20-2-104 (LexisNexis 2009) expressly places subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain divorce proceedings with the district courts:

A divorce may be decreed by the district court of the county in which either party resides on the complaint of the aggrieved party on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in the marital relationship.

Thus, we start this discussion with the knowledge that the district court in this case has subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain the instant divorce proceeding unless a contrary showing is made.

[¶ 6] The pivotal question is whether the fact that this is a same-sex couple strips the district court of the subject-matter jurisdiction it would otherwise enjoy to entertain a divorce proceeding. The district court found dispositive § 20-1-101, defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. Since a same-sex couple is incapable of entering into a marriage as defined by § 20-1-101, the district court reasoned there was no marriage to dissolve.

[¶ 7] In doing so, the district court did not give proper respect to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-1-111 (LexisNexis 2009), which provides that ” [a]ll marriage contracts which are valid by the laws of the country in which contracted are valid in this state.” Obviously, the district court’s determination that, despite a valid Canadian marriage, no valid marriage exists under Wyoming law, runs afoul of this statute. The district court’s ruling thus creates a conflict between § 20-1-101 and § 20-1-111. We do not agree that such a conflict exists in the context of a divorce proceeding.

[¶ 8] When faced with statutes that appear to conflict, this Court first attempts ” to harmonize them so as to give full effect to each.” Jessen v. Burry, 13 P.3d 1118, 1120 (Wyo.2000). This Court must not give a statute a meaning that will nullify its operation if it is susceptible of another construction.

Page 156

Billis v. State, 800 P.2d 401, 413 (Wyo.1990). In ascertaining the meaning of a given law, all statutes relating to the same subject or having the same general purpose must be considered and construed in harmony. Mtn. Cement Co. v. South of Laramie Water & Sewer Dist., 2011 WY 81, ¶ 13, __ P.3d __, __ (Wyo.2011); Loberg v. Wyo. Workers’ Safety & Comp. Div., 2004 WY 48, ¶ 5, 88 P.3d 1045, 1048 (Wyo.2004); Board of Cty. Comm’rs of Teton Cty. v. Crow, 2003 WY 40, ¶ 40, 65 P.3d 720, 733 (Wyo.2003); Shumway v. Worthey, 2001 WY 130, ¶ 8, 37 P.3d 361, 365 (Wyo.2001).

[¶ 9] We find § 20-1-101 and § 20-1-111, both relating to the creation of marriage, can coexist in harmony in the context of the instant divorce proceeding. Section 20-1-101 prevents a same-sex couple from entering into a marital contract in Wyoming. It does not speak to recognition of a same-sex marriage validly entered into in Canada. Section 20-1-111, on the other hand, expressly allows for the recognition of a valid Canadian marriage in Wyoming. On their face, the two sections treat different situations and as such do not conflict.

[¶ 10] We recognize that the rule set out in § 20-1-111 is not absolute. ” As has been the law of this state since 1876, marriages outside the state which are valid therein are valid in this state. § 20-1-111, W.S.1977. This statutory rule has been said to be merely declaratory of the rule at common law….” Bowers v. Wyoming State Treasurer, 593 P.2d 182, 184 (Wyo.1979) (citing Hoagland v. Hoagland, 27 Wyo. 178, 193 P. 843 (1920)). Under common law, this rule of validation, otherwise known as the rule of lex loci celebrationis, [2] is subject to ” certain recognized exceptions, namely, marriages which are deemed contrary to the law of nature as generally recognized in Christian countries, such as polygamous and incestuous marriages, and those which the legislature of the state has declared shall not be allowed any validity, because contrary to the policy of its laws.” Hoagland, 27 Wyo. at 180-81, 193 P. at 843-44 (Wyo.1920).

[¶ 11] The policy exception is necessarily narrow, lest it swallow the rule. It is not enough that a marriage would not be valid if solemnized in Wyoming. Common law marriages provide a good example. Common law marriages entered into in this state are invalid. In re Roberts’ Estate, 58 Wyo. 438, 467-68, 133 P.2d 492, 503 (Wyo.1943). Yet, this Court has recognized the validity of common law marriages entered into in foreign jurisdictions for limited purposes. In Jim’s Water Serv. v. Eayrs, 590 P.2d 1346, 1350 (Wyo.1979), the Court held that ” a common-law marriage valid in the state in which contracted is valid in Wyoming for purposes of receipt of benefits under our Worker’s Compensation laws.” This Court explained that recognizing a common law marriage validly entered into in a foreign jurisdiction for purposes of worker’s compensation laws ” in no way affects the holding in Roberts or weakens our laws as to consummation of marriage in Wyoming.” Bowers, 593 P.2d at 184.

[¶ 12] Likewise, recognizing a valid foreign same-sex marriage for the limited purpose of entertaining a divorce proceeding does not lessen the law or policy in Wyoming against allowing the creation of same-sex marriages. A divorce proceeding does not involve recognition of a marriage as an ongoing relationship. Indeed, accepting that a valid marriage exists plays no role except as a condition precedent to granting a divorce. After the condition precedent is met, the laws regarding divorce apply. Laws regarding marriage play no role.

[¶ 13] Specifically, Paula and Victoria are not seeking to live in Wyoming as a married couple. They are not seeking to enforce any right incident to the status of being married. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are seeking to dissolve a legal relationship entered into under the laws of Canada. Respecting the law of Canada, as allowed by § 20-1-111, for the limited purpose of accepting the existence of a condition precedent to granting a divorce, is not tantamount to state recognition of an ongoing same-sex marriage. Thus, the policy of this state against the creation of same-sex marriages is not violated.

CONCLUSION

[¶ 14] Two Wyoming residents are seeking a legal remedy to dissolve a legal relationship created under the laws of Canada. We find nothing in Wyoming statutes or policy that closes the doors of the district courts to them. The district court has subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain their petition for divorce.

[¶ 15] Reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

———

Notes:

[1] Our analysis is expressly limited to the issue before us. Nothing in this opinion should be taken as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages legally solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context other than divorce. The question of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before us, is left for another day.

[2] ” The law of the place where a contract, esp. of marriage, is made.” Black’s Law Dictionary 995 (9th ed. 2009).

Employment Law | Interesting wrongful termination decision

This ANALYSIS by law firm Berger Kahn:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 10.40.18 AMMany employees believe that unfair or bad termination decisions justify lawsuits.  This case reminds us that when employment is at-will, only terminations that violate public policy will typically sustain a lawsuit.

Employee’s Termination Was Not Wrongful

McGrory v. Applied Signal Technology, Inc.
(Cal. Ct. of App., 6th Dist.), filed January 24, 2013 

KEY FACTS

John McGrory worked for Applied Signal Technology, Inc.  He was hired as a section manager and promoted to department manager, reporting directly to the chief financial officer.  A dozen employees reported directly to McGrory.

McGrory gave one of the employees who reported to him, Dana Thomas, a written warning over poor work performance.  Thomas responded to the warning by filing a complaint accusing McGrory of discriminating against her based on her gender and sexual orientation.  She did not complain of sexual harassment.

Applied Signal Technologies engaged an outside attorney to investigate the complaint.  She concluded that McGrory had not discriminated against Thomas on the basis of her gender or sexual orientation.  However, she also concluded that in other ways McGrory had violated Applied Signal Technology’s policies on sexual harassment and business and personal ethics and he had been uncooperative and deceptive during the investigation.  Based on this latter finding, Applied Signal Technologies fired McGrory.

McGrory sued for wrongful termination and defamation.

Applied Signal Technology filed a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication.  It asserted there was no evidence that it terminated McGrory for an impermissible reason and that it could not be liable in defamation for privileged statements of opinion on a topic of mutual interest.  The trial court granted summary judgment.

HOLDING & REASONING

The Court of Appeal affirmed.

As an at-will employee, McGrory could be terminated by Applied Signal Technology, except for a reason that violates a fundamental public policy recognized in a constitutional or statutory provision.  One of these is on the basis of sex.

There was no evidence that McGrory was fired because of his sex.

Being uncooperative or deceptive in an employer’s internal investigation is not a protected activity under state or federal law.  Therefore, Applied Signal Technology was within its rights and the law to fire McGrory for being uncooperative in connection with its investigation of Thomas’ complaint.

Source: http://bergerkahn.com/decisions/february-2013-employees-termination-was-not-wrongful/

We need same-sex marriage so we can get divorced

By Melanie Nathan, February 10, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 5.56.02 PMThe glaring truth that we barely speak of; same-gender couples need marriage so they can get divorced. That is when, as a civil law institution, having marriage is imperative. Of course we need certain laws, such as tax laws, during marriage and hence we can make the argument why coupling without the choice to marry is unfair.  However we hardly ever make the argument that we need marriage so we can get divorced; we need it to define how we break up. Most people when advocating for our marriage rights, lose sight of this critical argument as to why it is so important to have parity under the law.

For years our gay and lesbian community has suffered the impact of not having the same rights as heterosexuals, who can choose to marry, regardless of what State they live in.  For years we have heard the religious right brow beat us into thinking that marriage is all about a Biblical interpretation of what God wants for all humans.  Let us not forget what marriage really is.  The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally a social union in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.   However as important is the fact that marriage is a binding legal contract between two people, that establishes uniform rights and obligations between two spouses, and between the spouses in relation to their children.

So while same-gender couples are denied the benefit of civil marriage laws in many places, the greatest difficulty of not being married, is experienced when one needs a divorce, when it comes to the break up.  Same-sex couples are thus denied the advantage of clarity under the law, where their rights and obligations enjoy clear definition, causing uncertainty and prejudice at the time of termination. So one of the most important reasons for getting married is so that we can have clarity and fairness when it comes time to divorce. IMG_6030

I have been privy to the enormous impact of the lack of law to govern broken gay and lesbian relationships, where for example couples have been together treating their relationship as if married, for many years.  More often than not these couples experience serious imbalance in the financial and parenting aspects of the relationships.   Especially where one partner has stayed at home as a homemaker, while the other has an enhanced career.  Some relationships carry on for years, as if marital, yet without applicable laws, and unless one enters into written partnership agreements, early on, proving the intention of the financial understanding in the relationship, can be very difficult at the time of termination.

How to help couples who do not have marriage laws to define their breakup:
These types  of breakups are best served by mediation, using an experienced neutral third party, who has an understanding of the issues of same-sex couples, deprived of legal clarity, through lack of equal laws. Obviously married couples are also well served by mediation, in most cases.

It is the mediator who can ensure one or more of the  (non-exhaustive) following, depending on the individual case:-

1. Helping parties understand the law that ought to have applied to a relationship, but did not;

2. Helping parties define and reach agreement as to their intentions toward each other during the relationship;

3. Helping parties honor their commitments to each other, regardless of lack of law;

4. Creating an environment of understanding where each party validates the position of the other, thereby dispelling the assumptions that cause conflict;

5. Helping parents place the best interests of the children at the fore:

6. Ensuring smooth transitions by creating plans that include financial support and interim custody/parenting plans, pending final settlement;

7. Ensuring the parties are equally empowered through external resources;

8. Keeping the process productive and preventing unnecessary legal expenses, through early management of conflict and the avoidance of litigation;

9. Allowing the partners to control the outcome by reaching a fair agreement that creates a win/win scenario rather than a win/lose scenario.

Melanie Nathan offers mediation to all couples:
nathan@privatecourts.com, via Skype or in the Bay Area, California.

I will be writing an Article soon – on how to get your partner into mediation – this helps those where an imbalance of power is perceived – as one often asks what would be the incentive to bring the more empowered partner into mediation, if he/she perceives a “win” via litigation and the courts.

Why divorcing same-sex couples should mediate

Amongst the many good reasons to mediate this is an important one

By Melanie Nathan, February 08, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 1.08.23 PMSame-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 nathan@privatecourts.com
I provide a free consultation on the phone for each party to see if the case is suitable for mediation.

Family Law Mediation

  • Mediation & Advocacy Services

    We mediate disputes before they turn into lawsuits……. and if you find yourself in lawsuit, we will mediate that too!
    • FAMILY CONFLICT RESOLUTION

    • CONTRACTUAL DISPUTES

    • CIVIL DISPUTES

    • ADVOCACY

  • DIVORCE

  • CUSTODY

  • SUPPORT

  • DIVISION OF PROPERTY

  • DOCUMENT ASSISTANCE

 nathan@privatecourts.com
(415) 601-1099