RestorativeMediations is a step-by-step process designed to resolve the dispute and help the parties heal. The first step in the process is to provide each party with an opportunity to talk candidly about the dispute and his/her hopes for the outcome. This occurs in a private meeting (usually 10-14 days before a joint meeting) with only the party, his/her lawyer, and Lee in attendance. After a series of these private meetings, the parties, along with their lawyers, meet with Lee for a facilitated conversation. In the joint meeting, reparative expressions such as apology and forgiveness are invited and encouraged.
The goal of the process is to create a safe space for the parties to talk with each other, resolve the dispute, and find forgiveness.
A 35 year-old woman and her 43 year-old husband were divorcing. The precipitating event for the divorce was the wife’s discovery of her husband’s extra-marital affair. The couple had two children aged 3 and 6 and both parties wanted what was best for their children. The divorce stalled because the parties had not found a way to address the non-economic injury the wife experienced as a result of her husband’s affair. The restorative mediation process created an opportunity for the husband to acknowledge the suffering he had inflicted and to account to his wife for the harm he caused. This acknowledgement allowed the parties to move past the block created by the non-economic injury. As a result, they were able to conclude the divorce and construct a new relationship that allowed them to meaningfully cooperate in the parenting of their children.
A conflict emerged between a pastor and his bishop. The conflict threatened to grow beyond the individuals and cause denominational harm. The parties elected to pursue restorative mediation. In the separate meetings, Lee was able to help each party identify how they felt they had been harmed, how they had contributed to the conflict, and how they would account to the other for the harm caused. The parties offered reciprocating apologies at the outset of the joint meeting. These apologies melted the tension and the parties were able to quickly and effectively resolve the conflict and co-create a workable plan for the future.