Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Winter 2014, Volume 20, Issue 4

Rewriting Your Happily-Ever-After Through Divorce Mediation

By Lani L. Baron

Lani Baron, Esq. is the founder of Alternative Divorce Solutions, which is a boutique family law firm focused on divorce mediation, uncontested dissolution, team mediation, premarital agreements, postmarital agreements and estate planning. In 2013, Lani was named as an honoree in Riviera Magazine’s Dynamic Women and Power Players editions. In addition, Lani was nominated for the prestigious OC Business Journal Awards for Women in Business and Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. Most recently, Lani was named one of OC Metro Magazine’s Top 100 Attorneys in Orange County, CA for 2014. She can be reached at

As an attorney, your role is sometimes more than that of an advocate. When you meet with a client to counsel her1 on which path to take, you are assisting in making a life-altering decision. In considering a range of possible solutions, an attorney must examine the social, emotional, and financial aspects of each alternative. Choosing between mediation and litigation could result in a heavy financial and emotional impact on the client and her family. It only takes a short time from when one begins practice in family law to realize the emotional toll litigation can have not only on a client, but also on the attorney. By analyzing the underlying causes of divorce, one can more clearly discern the impact of the choosing between mediation and litigation on the client.

Albert Einstein stated, "[w]e cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."2 Think differently, and you will see results. Employing attorneys to take up arms in a heated courtroom will likely not be the best solution. If communication has been contentious in the past, or if there have been misunderstandings between spouses, litigation will only serve to further create distance between people who once loved each other deeply enough to commit their lives to another. Consider this scenario: Wife is angry because she wants her jewelry out of the safety deposit box, and Husband is the only person with access. Wife calls her attorney, who then calls Husband’s attorney. Husband’s attorney calls his client, who informs the attorney he does not want to give Wife access to the safety deposit box. Wife’s attorney communicates this to Wife, who only becomes more enraged. The result: Wife is more upset and still does not have what she wants. In litigation, patterns like this can go on for years. The issues may get resolved, but the process is inefficient, emotionally draining, and costly.

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