Don’t worry one of the lawyers said; we have everything worked out. We are going to split parenting time fifty-fifty. I was a brand new family court facilitator at the time. To break the ice, and test the all too frozen waters, I inquired, “who is going to have the 365th day of the year?” Deadpan and quickly, one of the lawyers spoke up: “we are going to alternate years.” Things went down hill fast from there. I never learned how they were to deal with leap years.
Nobody had explored the real interests and desires of these parents. Beyond the best interests of their children, nobody had really cultivated the interests of the adults. This couple had simply been helped to disagree in a way that had left them each feeling that the cup might still be half-full, which at least seemed fair. Nobody had lost face.
My least sophisticated customers simply say that they want “fiddy-fiddy.”
I care to see people go deeper when they can. Most family cases are not one-shot dollar deal business disputes. Even in counting out the days of the year for parenting, some days are preferable to others, and it is not a zero sum game.
People hire me to conduct evaluative settlement conferences, but I like to include an interest based component in the mediation whenever possible, so that about to be ex-spouses can truly own their deal, and exit with a relationship that still functions, albeit at a different level.