I try to avoid politics in my personal life, at work and on my Facebook page and I’m not about to start discussing it now. Regardless of your political leanings or feelings about Donald Trump, his assertions about acting as a neutral in the Middle East got me thinking. Is mediation the same on a global scale as it is on a more personal level such as in divorce mediation?
I thought about some of the basic tenets of mediation (at least from my perspective on what constitutes true mediation) and one stood out that I could see plays a role on any level from local to international: Good faith adherence to agreements, whether verbal or legally binding.
As a Phoenix divorce mediator, I often encourage couples to enter into temporary good faith agreements pending the ultimate final agreements. These agreements are not legally binding, but are important to the process in terms of trust and moving closer to solutions. For example, instead of having court-ordered temporary orders put in place by a Judge for who will pay which bills pending trial, I ask my divorce mediation clients about their current financial situation, needs, and goals. Together we craft a good-faith temporary verbal agreement on how to manage finances until the divorce is final.
In some cases, my clients agree to keep everything joint until the happening of a certain occurrence, such as the sale of the house, one person moving out, one person obtaining a new job or the divorce date. In other cases, my clients agree to separate out their accounts and expenses immediately and one person pays the other a lump sum to assist in managing the finances until a final decision is reached on child support and/or spousal maintenance. In both instances, the couple has to embrace a good-faith agreement and even employ a little trust. Because each knows that if they don’t adhere to their verbal agreement they will be facing a Judge and possible court orders, usually the couple follows the intent of their temporary financial agreement.
On a global level, I think good faith adherence to agreements is also possible and necessary. If either party fails to observe the terms of temporary, verbal or non-binding agreements, the entire negotiation and ultimate outcome could fall apart. Therefore, regardless if Trump is elected or, if elected, is able to negotiate any meaningful agreements in the global arena, I think any mediator should consider the impact of having parties enter into good-faith interim agreements as a stepping stone to more lasting, and hopefully, peaceful agreements.