Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela were all great lawyers, who believed that the most important role of an attorney was to try to act as a peacemaker, to counsel people to reach a resolution. I try my best to do this, but I am not a miracle worker, and there simply are some cases that cannot be settled.

The positions some people take in their cases do not allow for any sort of compromise. If one person wants sole custody and refuses to settle for anything less, then that case will have to be tried. If one person wants to move to another state with the child, and the other parent will not agree to the move, then a judge will have to decide that issue. When one party seeks indefinite alimony, and the other refuses to consider any support beyond a couple of years, there is very little I can do to help these people find some common ground. Tomorrow, I will have to deal with one of these scenarios.

Some of my peers are shocked when I have a contested trial. Apparently the impression created by the media is that I have stopped litigating. I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth– only about 25% of my practice is mediation or Collaborative Divorce. While I do use my Collaborative skills almost daily, and I usually settle 95% of all my cases without a trial, there will always remain that 5% of people that can only see things as black and white, without any possibility for gray.

I have learned to live in a world full of shades of gray, and it is so beautiful in its richness and complexity, but not everyone can appreciate the world this way. It is I suppose an acquired taste.

By Regina A. DeMeo