Mediation allows special issues to be carefully reviewed and resolved. How might divorce between parents of a special needs child work? Do specific provisions need to be made when alcohol abuse comes into play? Do parents want to provide college money for their children? What will happen to a shared business? Joan H. McWilliams, president and founder of McWilliams Mediation Group, helps parties answer these questions and incorporate the conclusions into a plan that carefully outlines strategies for successful co-parenthood or business co-management.
“Our adversarial system isn’t very well-designed for divorce cases,” says McWilliams. “Once you go into court, one person has to prove that they’re right, and the other person has to prove that they’re wrong. This often increases hostility.”
In mediation, clients are encouraged to voice their concerns in a peaceful environment conducive to producing positive solutions. Whether the parties elect to meet together or separately, McWilliams has the conference rooms to accommodate either preference.
“The magic of mediation lies in the design. The parties control the process and are the ultimate decision makers,” says McWilliams.
While McWilliams helps
In striving to protect children from the harmful effects of divorce, McWilliams devoted a year to creating a proposal to amend a comment to a rule in the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 2.1, titled “Advisor,” states that lawyers may refer to the law when advising clients as well as refer to “moral, economic, social, and political factors that may be relevant to the client’s situation.” McWilliams’ proposal encourages attorneys to advise divorcing or separating clients with children that parental conflicts can have significant adverse effects on the children, which had not been explicitly stated before. “Divorce may hurt children a little bit, or it may hurt them a lot, but it’s a pain that they carry throughout their lives, and we can avoid that,” says McWilliams.
On December 1, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court approved McWilliams’ proposed amendment, making it the first state in the country to include such a provision in the Rules of Professional Conduct.