At Hatcher & Baez, we frequently help clients navigate highly stressful family law disputes that have been referred to the courts for decision. It’s what we do, and we are very good at it. But there’s a downside sometimes.
Litigating such disputes can compound the stress and damage to once intimate personal relationships. The stress of litigation may cause lifelong adverse emotional, mental, and physical health effects, especially when children are caught in the middle.
As legal professionals who love God and seek to live and work according to Biblical principles, we feel called to offer our clients a better and less expensive alternative. Whether or not our clients share our spiritual beliefs, the Biblical principles we intend to honor in this new mediation service have been tested and proven effective and impactful over many generations, and in many different religions and cultures. This document lists some of the most important principles applicable in mediating family disputes. For the sake of easy reference, we have numbered them.
- Treat all others the same way you would like to be treated. This is especially important when dealing with intrafamily conflicts. The Golden Rule is honored in many religious traditions all over the world. It works! (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31).
- Before you focus on the fault of the family member with whom you are in conflict, look in the mirror and honestly examine your own contributions to the situation. Ask God to help you see and acknowledge any harmful actions, habits or attitudes on your own part that have contributed to a breakdown in your family relationships. (Matt. 7:5).
- Guard your heart and your tongue. Once uttered, hurtful or angry words have great destructive power, like a spark that causes a major forest fire. They cannot be “recalled” or “deleted.” Ask God to help you control your temper, and keep you from oral or written communications or harmful actions that make matters worse. This is especially important when it comes to social media, emails and text messages. (Proverbs 21:23; Ephesians 4:29; James 3:5).
- Don’t ignore a significant conflict, or pretend that it doesn’t exist. Overlook minor offenses, and pursue resolution of others gently through open and honest communication. Face to face works much better than other options.(Proverbs 19:11; Colossians 3:12-14).
- You are better served by working in a collaborative way to resolve disputes with family members than asking judges to do this work for you. Judges only meet parties for a very brief and limited amount of time, and aren’t able to learn the complexities and nuances of your family. Most of the time you won’t like the results, and personal relationships that were already strained can be irretrievably damaged. (1 Corinthians 6:1).
- Regard others as more important than yourself. This is hard, and only with God’s help can you consistently live out this principle. A time-tested practice is to try to put yourself in the shoes of the person with whom you are in conflict and attempt to see the problems from their perspective. There are always two sides to every conflict, whether or not you choose to go to court. (Philippians 2:3).
- Rather than accepting an “easy way out” or allowing a once intimate and vibrant relationship to die on the vine, actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation, forgiving others just as God has forgiven us. Seek just and mutually beneficial solutions to your differences; peacemakers truly are blessed. (Matt. 5:9; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Matt. 6:12,14; Matt 18:21-22).
- Trust is essential to both reconciliation and mediation of conflicts. Gaining and maintaining even a guarded level of trust requires honesty, transparency, and full disclosure of all relevant information. This is at the core of a successful mediation. (Proverbs 31:11; Ephesians 4:15).