In keeping with the season, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of the main differences between litigation (trick) and mediation (treat) with a bit of a Halloween twist.

Positive Not Negative BlackboardTricks, just like litigation, often seem exciting and even empowering at the beginning. However, they are often driven by and/or elicit very strong negative emotions. These strong emotions often lead to two negatively reinforcing dynamics:

  1. Bad decision-making when one’s thought process is clouded by reactive, vengeful thinking.
  2. Escalation (negative reciprocity) between the parties as one tries to outdo the others ‘tricks’.

Treats, just like mediation, are focused on presenting and eliciting a more balanced and positive approach. Instead of threatening or tricking the other person, we focus on positively motivating them with appropriate ‘treats’. This more measured approach often leads to two positively reinforcing dynamics:

  1. Since parties aren’t triggered (and therefore can think clearly), they are better able to focus on objective decision-making and long-term priorities (such as taking care the children).
  2. A sense of openness and positive reciprocity opens the door for goodwill gestures that often lead to developing more creative solutions for both the finances and the children.

Tricks (Litigation):

  • Undermine one’s sense of stability because they are always wondering when the next attack is going to happen
  • Create ongoing ill will between parents that makes it difficult to co-parent
  • Wastes an inordinate amount of people’s money on trying to out maneuver the other in court

Treats (Mediation):

  • Create a sense of certainty/stability since the parties are actively involved in the decision-making
  • Provides positive motivation for parents to work together in the best interest of their children
  • Saves the treats (financial resources) for the parties and their children rather than their attorneys

For more detail, please review my “Benefits of Divorce Mediation” page.