Tip: Remember to NOT fall in love with a particular asset. It may be best to simply say good-bye.
One couple I mediated for had a Swedish ivy that they both were stuck on, but no one told me about it until everything else was negotiated.
The couple reached a mediated divorce agreement on all issues, which they had taken great care and time in reaching and both felt was equitable. And then, out of the blue, the wife said she wanted the Swedish ivy which was hanging on the deck of the former marital residence where the Husband lived. The Husband was adamantly opposed to giving her the plant.
The Swedish ivy issue came up after ALL other issues were settled and at the end of the session, of course. So we scheduled another session, which would cost them far more than buying another lush plant, this was their choice. That did not make economic sense in and of itself. However, it got worse. After the couple left my office they quarreled and the entire agreement started to unravel. The couple decided to schedule another mediation session with the attorneys present.
At the session with the attorneys, who were a bit puzzled by the Swedish ivy issue, the couple was able to quickly put the financial agreement back together with a little tweaking. However, the couple then went back to grapple over the Swedish ivy. Ultimately, the couple was able to solve the Swedish ivy issue at that session, after much time, discussion, and pressure from their attorneys, so all ended well. Except did it? At what cost? There is the economic cost of paying two attorneys and a mediator while the couple haggled over the plant. But more importantly, there is the emotional cost which will last for a long time. They both ended up feeling like they “gave in”…not over the divorce settlement, but over the plant compromise.
Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class actions. She has settled and mediated thousands of cases. In addition to civil litigation mediation, she also co-mediates divorces with John Duda, a marriage and family therapist.
Debra Synovec, a Seattle-based mediator and lawyer, has mediated divorces for 20 years. She believes in empowering the parties to reach their own resolution.