It seems that the proponents of mediation and collaborative law are very passionate about their subjects, but are they in danger of misleading the public as to just what mediation and collaboration can achieve? The enthusiasm that they show sometimes seems to me to give the impression that mediation and/or collaboration are panaceas that will resolve any divorce/separation dispute, completely replacing more 'traditional' ways of resolving those disputes. I don't know if it is just me who thinks that these things are over-sold, but if the general public were to get this impression, then I think we could have a problem.
I have said previously that I was sure that any collaborative lawyer would agree that collaboration was not a panacea, but now I'm not so certain. Some of the claims made for it and for mediation verge on the hyperbole. I'm not going to give any specific examples, as I don't want to single anyone out, but they certainly give me the impression that they are the answer to everyone's family law problems, or even that you would be foolish not to use them.
Why does it matter? After all, surely any attempt to resolve matters by agreement is a good idea? Well, yes, but only to a point. Many cases just aren't going to settle in mediation or collaboration. If people are duped into thinking that their case will settle when manifestly it won't, then they will suffer unnecessary delay, frustration and expense. Now, I'm sure that the best mediators and collaborative lawyers exercise some sort of vetting system at the outset, sifting out those cases that are not suitable, but I worry that the fervour of some (or just the need for a return on the investment in training) will blind them into accepting cases that are patently unsuitable.
Clearly, the public should be made aware of all of the possibilities for resolving their family disputes, but they should also be made aware of the limitations intrinsic in some of the alternatives. Sometimes, getting a matter before the court as quickly as possible really is the best option.