Getting Divorced? Who is the Enemy?/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on September 13, 2010


Michael Goodwin, a syndicated columnist, once wrote a piece in which he accused President Obama of getting the teaching of President Teddy Roosevelt backwards. He accused him of being soft on dictators and international critics and having a “Big Stick” when it comes to domestic politics. Do bankers, for example, truly deserve more hostility than the world’s most prominent villains? But this is the impression with which Michael Goodwin is left.

The valuable point of Mr. Goodwin’s piece is that we need to truly identify the real enemies we face before we enter into a negotiation. When a couple with children undergo divorce, they will be co-parents for the rest of their life. Is the ex-spouse really to be treated like the enemy? This seems to be the inevitable outcome of litigation that has the “scorched earth” principle behind it. Even where children are not involved, isn’t it better to “speak softly” than to be shrill and accusatory? It is possible to be a vigilant guardian of our rights and yet be civil and even approachable. The method that actually makes this combination of behaviors a possibility is known as Divorce Mediation. If you can get to Win-Win by civility, you truly do not need to adopt the posture of the heavyweight champion stalking your prey. It is indeed possible to win by “speaking softly”. If you doubt that, try mediation and see what can result. Mediation works.