Par for the course you say, isn’t that true of every divorce? There was something more than usually sad here. These were not “who slept with who” scenarios, and nobody had a new significant other. As service men and women, they had done much to be proud of in their lives, and this was not the way it was supposed to be now they were back home. The dumped just did not understand the dumper any more. The dumper wanted distance, and a plot of land.
If there was any military theme here, it was the last stand. A place to grow old, become self sufficient for a while, and then pass on from this life.
For the mediator in me, this overt need made for a refreshingly interest based mediation, because one party was spilling it all out for the other to see. There was a totally different dynamic from the 50:50 case, or the how much can I get case. Here we were able to sit down and figure things out from the practical perspective of how can these interests be met? The currency was not dollars, and the dumped was instantly less threatened by the prospect of a large take.
The lawyer’s were a bit surprised. These were not the usual negotiations requiring an analysis of how much maintenance might the judge give, how should the assets be valued before a split. In these cases, if one party could be helped to have their interests met, the other might actually do better than they could in court. The discussions were unusually collaborative.
One case ended with a move to the Deep South, the plot of land had been identified, and he hitched up the truck and rolled away.
For me the take home has been to ask the parties to look two to five years into the future, and to tell me what they want their lives to look like. On occasion, they can say the most helpful and revealing things.