Inside Publications’s Shop Talk features a new business each month. This month, Better Solutions Mediation Sacramento office was featured in the article written by Jessica Laskey. http://www.insidepublications.org/index.php/shop-talk/595-it-gets-better
Better Solutions helps People Get Through Divorce ‘Content,’ or Better
No one likes to fight with a loved one, but never is it more painful than when those fights occur during a divorce. Kimberly Strand, owner of Better Solutions Mediation, knew there had to be a better way.
“Divorce is such an emotional time for people,” Strand says from her East Sacramento office, which she opened in March 2013. “Litigation tends to be very acrimonious and filled with tension. I saw so many people get caught up in the cycle—I’ve seen it destroy a lot of families.
Strand saw the destructive side of divorce firsthand in the family law litigation practice she ran for five years in Sacramento after moving here from her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., in 2006.
“I’ve always really wanted to work with people,” Strand says. “I worked for a family law practice in law school (at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law) and continued in family law after graduating. After litigating for five years, I saw the cost—both financially and emotionally—of families battling over divorces, so I’ve been working toward this goal of exclusively mediating for years.”
Making good on her goal to find a better way to help families through trying times, Strand attended her first mediation training session in 2011 and has since completed 80 hours of training to make herself the best mediator she can be. Along the way, she came in contact with instructor Gillian Brady, a fellow family law practitioner and mediation specialist who owned a company called Better Solutions Mediation in Davis. After learning Brady’s methods and processes, Strand decided that she wanted to bring those solutions to Sacramento.
“My style is very similar to Gillian’s,” Strand says, “and I believe our process is the best we can offer. Being a sole practitioner can get very lonely. You’re not interacting with ‘the other side’ because there is no other side. This way, Gillian and I can co-mediate cases if they’re especially complicated or need a good balance.”
Brady and Strand strive for one common thing in all of their mediation: that everyone leaves the room content, if not happy.
“I say ‘content’ instead of ‘happy’ because no one’s really happy to be going through a divorce,” Strand says. “But it’s really important to me to treat each person as an individual. Might have a process I take them through, but it’s completely driven by the individuals going through it. I’ll gather the couples’ interests and figure out what’s important to both of them and we go only as quickly as the person who needs the most time. That way, both parties end up content and the hope is that they won’t have to come back.”
Strand noticed during her litigation years that there was a disheartening rate of return: Couples would come back when things changed, like children getting older, or their finding new perspectives on old wounds. What Strand strives for in mediation is an agreement both parties can grow into.
“The number-one thing for people to realize is that in mediation, they will be in charge of the outcome,” Strand says. “There’s no judge and I don’t represent one side or the other, so the agreement is created by the individuals themselves.”
Strand sees herself as a guide more than anything, one who’s in charge of helping the couple move forward as kindly as possible.
“Litigation is very focused on the past, but that’s not always productive,” Strand says. “In mediation, we don’t do a lot of rehashing; we focus on the future. It can be helpful to look at what has occurred, but if it starts to get heated, we’ll take a time out and say, ‘Is this productive?’”
Strand also insists that people recognize that what she does on a daily basis isn’t what you see on television or hear from others. Rather, it’s a very personal, professional process.
“When people think they know what mediation is based on TV shows or horror stories from friends, it’s called ‘water cooler law,’ ” Strand says with a wry chuckle. “The problem with water cooler law is that people aren’t getting the full picture. Facts change, everyone’s different, no situation is the same. I love being able to break down what the law says and help people understand.”
Most of all, Strand is committed to making good on what her practice’s name promises: “better solutions” is what her business is all about.