MEET HANK KIMMEL
A registered mediator since 1999, Hank Kimmel has helped settle more than 3,000 disputes in Georgia through his private practice and as a mediator for the two most major metro court systems in Atlanta. Most of these cases involve domestic, landlord-tenant, and personal injury issues. Hank also helps train law students to become mediators, and he uses his background as a playwright to utilize short plays as a mediation training tool for lawyers and mediators.
Hank has specialized training to handle cases involved domestic violence and juvenile issues. He works in a way that helps parties and their attorneys gain a coherent understanding of the legal, business, and personal aspects of conflict, acknowledging the key elements that will allow them to reach forward-looking resolutions.
IN THIS PODCAST
- Misconceptions about mediation
- A case of mediation success
- The mediator acts as a bridge
- How to stop trends from previous marriages affecting future marriages or partners
SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MEDIATION
“To me what a misconception is, is they [clients] wanna have their ‘day in court’, but unless there are cameras in the courtroom, unless there’s something extraordinary going on, it’s just a day at the office for everybody who works there.”
Many people think that mediation can be something where tensions run high, but it is calmer than people may expect. Hiring or working with a mediator does not escalate the situation or make it more dramatic; in fact, it is a service that can aid you in not having to take your case to court.
Attorneys can help you navigate the legal systems, and the mediator is present to make sure that it goes smoothly, whether in court or in prior negotiations.
A CASE OF MEDIATION SUCCESS
“I, as a mediator, consider myself a referee in sports. I don’t tell people what to do or how to do it, but I do wanna make sure we can have an organized conversation.”
For Hank, the various types of mediation success look different from one another. For some people, a mediation case has been successful if the parties do not hire attorneys, or they do not have to go to court. They oversee a collaborative process between two divorcing or separating parties that want to go about their case amicably.
Taking the case to court is a public affair that people may not consider, and it can turn the situation into a different road. Working with a mediator can save you money for having to hire attorneys or pay court fees, and on a more personal level, it can mean that you settle the case amongst you and your partner, showing your children that you can work together even in such trying circumstances.
“I think that’s important; in the courtroom, you’re defending yourself and in mediation you don’t have to prove anything to the mediator, it’s really where do you wanna go from here.”
Working with a mediator works best when both parties are willing to be work collaboratively for the bigger picture. More broadly, mediators present the reality check of asking you the question; what is the value of settling this case? What is your most favorable outcome, and how can they assist you in getting there the way with the least resistance?
THE MEDIATOR ACTS AS A BRIDGE
In court, divorce settlements can turn into win versus lose situations. A mediator acts as a filter for what both parties and their attorneys say, and keeps the focus on the bigger picture and what the goals are, instead of getting caught up in the powerful emotions of the moment.
Placing focus on interests, not positions:
- A position is more subjective and based on what you want right now, and an interest is more objective and focuses on what you, your partner, and your family need right now. What is important.
- A mediator uses this filter to guide you in your arguments and discussions with your partner and the attorneys, keeping the emphasis on the end-goal. This is indeed easier said than done as a mediator, but it serves an important purpose to remind people to look at the bigger picture with a wider lens rather than just seeing only this one moment.
HOW TO STOP TRENDS FROM PREVIOUS MARRIAGES AFFECT FUTURE MARRIAGES OR PARTNERS
Hank makes a point that he believes is important to do: family counseling. People do not often sit together and take inventory of what happened or why it happened and do not analyze it to understand these, and so these mistakes or occurrences may happen again.
Here comes the intersection between therapy, counseling, and mediation and the legal system. Things can change easily. Even after the settlement and no matter how sorted out everything is on paper, there needs to be some leeway in case something outside the previous parameters comes into play, such as a new partner or step-parent coming into the mix. The value in mediation is not only to save on costs but also to find communicative systems that can serve the parties long after they have settled their case.
“Setting up a mechanism for communication is really important in a mediation agreement. And both parties agree to treat each other respectfully and neutrally and sometimes they’ll even out in an agreement that the parties understand that how we treat each other with respect is to set an example for their children. So it’s not that they’re doing it for each other but doing it for their child.”
When the mediation in a divorce has been a success, the couple can walk away from the situation with a new collaborative and respectful mindset, and trust that not everything has to be detailed on paper because life can easily and quickly shift but to have resilience in the matter.
Acknowledgment is important in mediation and is a keyword in creating a pathway into a more holistic future.