25th Anniversary of ConsensUs Alternative Dispute Resolution
ConsensUs, our trademark-registered alternative dispute resolution process created and developed by the Matrimonial Department’s chairperson, Marcy L. Wachtel, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In the last quarter century, by participation in mediation in the ConsensUs forum, scores of couples have reached and executed divorce settlement agreements as well as parenting/child custody, post-nuptial and separation agreements.
ConsensUs originated as an antidote to the traditional adversarial system wherein each side “lawyers up”, and the parties become embroiled in a public contested litigation which is emotionally and financially draining, unpredictable, inefficient and erosive of the good will and sense of cooperation necessary to handle the myriad issues in custody or marital dissolution matters. Additionally, inherent in this conflict-laden structure, is a surrender of control to an overworked judge or referee. In contrast to the adversarial and judicial structures, the ConsensUs process is controlled by the parties and the attorneys at our firm with privacy and confidentiality. ConsensUs is distinguishable from traditional mediation in many aspects, including that the lawyers in our Matrimonial Department have 140 years of collective experience in the matrimonial and family law fields and courts.
Engaging in the ConsensUs process requires a sincere and large commitment by both parties. The couple must decide if they wish to and can weather the anxiety of reaching decisions by discourse and debate, knowing there will be discord and disagreements. The process is not a form of marriage counseling as the attorneys here are not seeking, and do not have the requisite skills and training, to address the parties’ marital problems and repair their marriage. The parties choose ConsensUs because a mutual decision has been made to physically separate and end the marriage or relationship or enter into a contract impacting their marital or parenting rights, and they are choosing to do so in a manner which will maximize the possibilities of effective and cooperative post-divorce parenting as well as privacy and civility.