Predicting Divorce

(I first saw a note about this article on Don Philbin’s ADRTOOLBOX site. 1 )

Like the break-ups themselves, divorce rates are a complicated subject to study.

Questions abound: Should we really want divorce rates to go down? Is it true that about half of American marriages end in splitsville? And why are so many baby boomers ending things all of a sudden?
— Drake Baer, Thrive Global. (2017, November 6). 5 factors that may predict divorce, according to psychology. Retrieved from

As a mediator helping people to resolve their differences in the process of obtaining a divorce (and a judge formerly presiding over that finality), I was struck by the quandary of “should we really want divorce rates to go down.” Unfortunately (and I think, oddly) the article does not address that question!

On the other hand, it does lay out the promised 5 factors. None are much of a surprise to family law practitioners but it is helpful to keep them in mind. They are instructive and of use perhaps most useful to any reader with children to educate on the dangers that may lurk ahead in their relationships.

Returning to the original question: I think “yes,” we should want the divorce rates to go down as marriage is still an essential institution in American society. Knowing these 5 dangers in advance is useful but I believe that we need more attention can be given to how to repair a marriage that is getting in trouble. I thought it not a good idea when judges lost the power to order a couple to counseling. Perhaps that should be revisited.

In the meanwhile, pre-divorce mediation can be a good tool to smooth the departure, if not avoid it. Mediators should not try to be marriage counselors but getting the discussion going is useful if productive conversation can be obtained.


  1.  5 Factors That May Predict Divorce – ADR Toolbox. (2017, November 19). Retrieved from

Never say “never”

That line is ever so true in dispute resolution. I have had mediations begin with the indication from one or both sides that “we’re just here because we have to mediate first in order to get a trial setting.” That is the requirement in the local courts, and in many across Texas.

Undaunted, I flail away at the issues and obstacles until — almost always — the dispute is resolved. I am convinced that most people really do want their controversy resolved. There may be a lot of reasons for the lawsuit in the first place, but in time there come to be far more reasons to settle than to continue.

Litigation is a participation sport, so to speak. The client has to be involved and do a lot of work. When I was in practice I was quick to tell the client that they had to be heavily involved and not to expect to just toss their file on my desk and wait to show up at the trial. The work, anxiety, expense and, most of all, the uncertainty, are reasons to mediate.

The work is not over when you come for help in resolving your dispute, but there is nothing more satisfying than to walk away at the end of the day with a signed, binding agreement in hand and the uncertainty has evaporated.