Article Authored By: Jason Pica
We built a mediation model specifically for families of color with an emphasis on participatory, interdisciplinary psycho-educational methods, coupled with preventative law theories.
While I am continuing my divorce and family law practice at a private law firm as well as serving as the Vice President of a local nonprofit law firm, and as one of few Black divorce and family law attorneys in Chicago, I found it crucial for me to provide accessible and cost-effective mediation services to my community.
This job to me is not a joke. I am a child of three distinctly different divorces. My biological parents divorced when I was one year old. Then, my biological father divorced my stepmom after 16 years; subsequently, my mother divorced my stepdad after 20 years. My biological parents’ divorce was laser-focused on parenting disputes in excess of 10 years where I had a Guardian ad Litem and supervised exchanges and visitation. The biological dad-stepmom divorce was silenced, forced under the rug with my childhood mental and emotional health never addressed. Finally, the mom-stepdad’s almost 3 plus years of divorce litigation focused on property and asset division. Each divorce affected me differently as a child and still today as an adult. My story makes this business personal.
My story also ignited the creation of “The Divorced Child” – a social media-based platform for adult children of divorce or custody disputes to share their lived experiences with divorce and family law professionals, so we can learn directly from the children. Far too often, professionals are advocating for the best interests of a child without hearing from children who have lived through these taxing experiences.
In today’s modern world, much of justice reform is focused on criminal justice reform. However, civil justice reform, specifically in domestic relations and family court around the nation is ignored. Often, I witness low to middle-income parents, particularly parents of color, spending months or years and sometimes their entire paycheck on court fees, attorneys, and other court costs when their legal issues are essentially crafting a parenting time schedule, child support, and decision-making responsibilities. While the cases may appear simple, this population is often affected by complex socioeconomic challenges and cultural differences that do not fit into the court system or application of laws as currently written. Family court is not created to compassionately and effectively address the intricacies of families of color. Together, in mediation, we can resolve parental disputes and pre-plan using preventative law theories.
Beyond legal experience externing for a circuit court judge in the domestic relations division, interning at two reputable divorce firms in Chicago, representing the best interests of foster youth in the child protection division as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, as well as at Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, I also have a background in clinical social work with a specialization in children and families. I previously provided free psychotherapeutic and crisis intervention services to children and teens in Chicago’s South and West sides as a counselor. Together, J. Pica Mediation, LLC will skillfully combine both disciplines to help parents and their families.
We primarily focus on the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time disputes between unmarried parents of color. Our emphasis on cultural competency is unmatched and implores a thoughtful, candid discussion between the parties and the mediator.
By committing to mediation, parents can control the future of their family and skillfully craft their parenting plan, allocation judgment, or marital settlement agreement all in an affordable, cost-effective manner.
Offering flat-fee mediation services based on the combined gross income of the parties, parents also receive a comprehensive and thoughtfully crafted written agreement. Family law is a forever expanding area of law and should continue to innovate in the modern age. Please review our website at picamediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
Jason is a senior associate attorney with Chicago Family & Immigration Services, LLC as well as a Staff Attorney and the Vice President on the Board of Directors of Chicago Advocate Legal, NFP. Jason founded J. Pica Mediation, LLC, where he is perfecting a mediation model specifically for families of color. He focuses his practice primarily on divorce and family law as well as adoptions, guardianship of minors in probate, and DCFS appeals. Jason received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Law.