Jul 27, 2021
Worst Couple Ever
The worst couple I ever had in mediation were a couple who had been married for many many years. They started off with what seemed like a deeply held commitment to cooperation and fairness; always an excellent beginning.
Debbie Y. Schneider, Esquire, Attorney-Mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation discusses.
They had grown children, who were completely self-sufficient, so they did not need to worry about supporting their children. They were also retired. It should be simple and straightforward. All of the usual protocols in our mediation program were followed. We talked about Pennsylvania divorce law, and they seemed to understand. One party had inherited assets which often cause a problem, but for this couple, that was not the issue.
The problem was that one party had a sizable teacher pension, which the party was already receiving. The party had apparently declared to their soon to be spouse that the pension was “off the table” in the divorce settlement. Simply put, this position was in no way consistent with the divorce laws.
I tried my best to work with this position; I reconfigured the settlement every which way to try to accommodate the desire of that client, and as long as they were both invested in a solution, I kept trying. We talked more, and configured more, but although both of them were lovely people, they just could not move off of the positions that had them stuck with no way to compromise.
Ultimately, this couple was completely defeated by one spouse’s intractable position on one issue. Divorce is always a compromise; no one wins, and no one loses. For any divorce to be successful, be it mediated or litigated, the parties must be willing to compromise on all of the issues.