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A team of family law barristers will today overturn centuries of legal tradition by being first to offer the public a fixed fee divorce service designed to keep their clients out of court. The team of barristers from Middlesbrough are dispensing with the wig and gown to help warring couples reach out of court settlements over child arrangements and family finances. The decision to encroach on the traditional turf of high street solicitors is the unintended consequence of the government’s swingeing cuts to the family justice system. Following the withdrawal of legal aid for most family law matters, solicitors are instructing fewer and fewer barristers to represent publicly funded clients at court. As well as being responsible for the ballooning number of parents now representing themselves at court, it is threatening barristers with financial ruin. read
In their information about the process of divorce, the California Courts recommend that all couples consider mediation. “It is unsurprising that the California Judicial Branch officially recommends divorce mediation,” said Gerald Maggio, a California divorce attorney and mediator. “Right now, California family court judges are dealing with an enormous backlog of cases. And many are divorce cases that wind up up simply as a division of debts because the couple has spent all of their assets on divorce attorneys.” In their discussion of mediation, the California Courts place the most emphasis on the benefits that mediation passes on to children. read
On Friday last week National Family Mediation (‘NFM’), the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, reported a significant rise in the take-up of its services in the first six months of 2014. Mediation is, of course, the government’s big answer to its abolition of legal aid for most private law family matters in April 2013. Instead of going to court, couples should resolve their disputes through mediation, or at least that is the idea. read
A man accused of sexually abusing a girl for seven years may see his case end in mediation. Donald Lenz, 56, was scheduled to be tried Oct. 6 with first-and second-degree sodomy and first- and second-degree sexual abuse. Thursday, Circuit Court Judge William Clouse allowed all parties to meet in a mediation session, which will be before a retired judge. If an agreement is reached, it will be presented to the trial judge for approval. read
The Mark Sanford divorce saga has gone back behind closed doors: After a surge of attention to the South Carolina congressman’s rambling Facebook post on Friday about his private life, a family-court judge said today that Mr. Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny, have agreed to mediation on parenting issues and other concerns. read
Court battles can go on for months or even years, and can get very ‘ugly’. All sense of civility is usually lost, and lawyers battle it out, airing the couple’s dirty laundry to be judged in court. In some cases, the litigation route is the only option – and you may need to hire a lawyer to make sure your interests are protected. However, if at all possible, you should try to go the route of mediation. This is where both parties come to a mutual agreement through a trained negotiator experienced in divorce law. It is often much quicker and far less emotionally damaging than litigation. read
Who says August is a quiet month? It’s not traditionally noted for major Government statements, but this month saw one of the most significant announcements affecting family law and mediation for some time. Justice Minister Simon Hughes pledged funding for a single free mediation session for both parties where just one of them qualifies for legal aid. read
The demand for prenuptial practicalities is on the rise, with one London company reporting a 50% rise in people inquiring about pre-nups. This upsurge could have been partly prompted by the Law Commission’s suggestion that a pre-marriage agreement should form part of the marriage reform, and that pre-nups should be given the kind of legal weight which they’re afforded in Scotland. read
Today, I'd like to focus on a settlement approach that is currently receiving a lot of attention across the United States -- mediation. Mediation is a process in which a trained mediator tries to help opposing parties reach an agreement they can both live with. In Guam, the "father" of mediation is attorney Pat Wolff. When I think about Pat, I reflect back on the old saying: "One person can make a difference." read
The cost of legal advice for divorcing couples has fallen 30% since 2006, according to research by one of Britain's biggest insurers. The rise of cheap DIY services, while limited, may have helped force down prices, the insurer suggested. However, legal experts said the removal of legal aid is likely to have contributed to the decline in the average cost, which has fallen from £1,818 to £1,280. Online do-it-yourself services advertise a “quickie” divorce for as little as £37. But couples must agree on how any assets will be split and how child care and other arrangements will be managed. While almost a third of couples said they tried to reach an amicable settlement to save on legal fees, the proportion that used on online service, while growing, is still very low at 4%. read
Shhhh! The Big Risk Associated With Mediation Confidentiality Nobody Talks About (9/05/14) Rachel Ehrlich In complex civil disputes it is not uncommon for information to be provided through mediation and that information is often subject to mediation confidentiality. When related disputes (contractual indemnity, insurance carrier contribution, insurance coverage and bad faith, and reinsurance) arise, mediation confidentiality prohibits using the information relied upon as evidence in the related matter.
Law Professor Transformed (9/05/14) Dan Simon Professor Sherry Colb, who teaches criminal procedure and evidence at Cornell Law School, took a training in transformative mediation this spring and it blew her mind. You can read the full text of the article she wrote about it here. In her article Colb explains the fundamentally different assumptions that underly the legalistic paradigm as compared to the transformative paradigm. Here are a dozen of the insights that the training inspired in her:
Resolucion Alterna de Conflictos en Costa Rica y la Apertura Hacia Nuevas Formas de Gestionar el Conflicto (9/01/14) Rolando Perlaza Perez Hace 17 años en Costa Rica se promulgó la Ley Sobre Resolución Alterna de Conflictos y Promoción de la Paz Social ley número 7727 (Ley RAC) y se iniciaron campañas de formación y concientización de la ciudadanía sobre las ventajas y bondades de la solución pacífica, dialogada y colaborativa del conflicto. Desde entonces, Costa Rica ha avanzado en el desarrollo y fortalecimiento de los métodos tradicionales de RAC (Resolución Alterna de Conflictos), entiéndase Arbitraje, Mediación/conciliación, Negociación y en los últimos años los Círculos de Paz. Incluso en el año 2011 se promulgó la Ley Sobre Arbitraje Comercial internacional Ley 8937, que sienta las bases para que Costa Rica sirva de Sede para arbitrajes internacionales de naturaleza comercial.
Conflict Resolution for Kids (8/22/14) Judy Ringer My good friend and colleague, Thomas Crum, taught me a lot of what I know about having hard conversations. A method he uses with children - the BLT - is so simple and easy to remember, I often use it and have found it to work very well with children and adults: Breathe, Learn, Talk.
When the Mediators Pay the Highest Price (8/22/14) Martin Svatos Recent development in the Near East reminds how long and disastrous the Arabic-Israeli conflict is. Unfortunately, it has already claimed thousands of victims and every one of these tragedies could narrate a specific and sad story. One among them is especially important to be commemorated since it recounts a life and work of the first UN mediator who had saved thousands of prisoners in the Second World War and who was later killed carrying out his duties.
Understanding Each Party’s Power in Family Mediation-Arbitration: Why it is Critical (7/25/14) Hilary Linton A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision illustrates the need for clearer guidelines for “screening for power imbalances and domestic violence”, a mandatory component of Ontario family arbitration. It also demonstrates the benefits for parties, lawyers and arbitrators in understanding that some methods of screening are more effective than others; and in ensuring that screening is done in accordance with the best practices before the mediation in a mediation-arbitration.
Mediating Inheritance Disputes (7/18/14) Jeffrey Fink Inheritance disputes can be difficult to resolve. They are tied up in a lifetime of emotions toward the deceased and every other claimant under the will, as well as personal and spousal expectations of monetary gain. Here are 10 tips and tricks that have helped with this kind of dispute.
Case Study: The Mediating Manager (7/18/14) Katherine Graham Sian is the Communications Manager for a UK charity and has recently appointed James, a designer whose job required frequent contact with production officer Helga, who had worked with Sian for over 3 years. Sian had a sinking feeling that things were not going too well between James and Helga, but Sian was busy and, optimistically, had put the tensions down to early teething troubles and hoped she could leave them to sort out their differences ‘as adults’.
Insecurity in Nigeria : Focus on Social Protection (7/16/14) Mary Aderibigbe The spate of insecurity has become alarming. There have been calls for stringency of laws to bring culprits to justice. Security operatives go after the perpetrators and turn over those apprehended to the courts -- yet the conditions that breed revolt are worsening. This spells real danger!
GPS and Divorce Mediation (7/07/14) Bruce Provda GPS systems are starting to make their way into divorce proceedings. When infidelity is suspected, being able to produce digital confirmation of an spouse’s movements can provide powerful ammunition and lay a strong foundation for the remainder of the mediation process.
A Song of Loss for Divorce Mediators (6/30/14) Richard Barbieri I was recently asked to give a presentation in an advanced seminar on Mediating with Families in Transition. I thought at first of the many film scenes that I have previously utilized, from the opening of Wedding Crashers to The War of the Roses. I then realized that most of my artistic experience of lost love comes through music, rather than film, and so I prepared a new presentation based on favorite songs about the effects of divorce. 1 Comment
Values and Interests Revealed in Detroit “Grand Bargain” (6/30/14) Mary Novak The story of the Detroit bankruptcy mediation’s emerging “Grand Bargain” (as it has been dubbed in the media) is a fascinating case of many different groups working to protect their chosen interests. The bargain demonstrates how mediation allows parties to consider what they are willing to give in order to secure the things that matter most to them, and how traditional rivals may collaborate for a shared goal.
Post-Divorce Blues: Unresolved Issues and New Problems Unsettle Divorced Spouses (6/13/14) Dr. Lynne C. Halem Months, even years, of haggling and anxiety were finally at an end. A new beginning was in the offering. Yet the initial relief, may be filled with sadness, and may well be short-lived. Divorced couples are often faced with agreements that do little to help them navigate an evolving, and even rocky, future. Mediation provides an agreement which is clear and specific as to beginning points and ends, as to the details of property, support, and the children, including education, death, and taxes, provides insurance for protecting couples from the surprises of tomorrow.
agreement which is clear and specific as to beginning points and ends, as to the details of property, support, and the children, including education, death, and taxes, provides insurance for protecting couples from the surprises of tomorrow.
Anger Management (6/13/14) Phyllis Pollack Let us suppose that you are at a mediation or in some sort of negotiation and the other party has just said something that has gotten you so angry, you are ready to grab your belongings and storm out of the mediation/negotiation.
Pain in the Neck (6/03/14) Cinnie Noble When we are in conflict with another person or the dynamics between us seem to be leaning towards one developing, some of us have a tendency to begin to find fault with the other person. We may attribute negative motives to her or him. We may stay away from this person or show the emotions we are experiencing in various ways.
The Value of a Gesture of Good Faith (5/23/14) Jan Frankel Schau This week I learned something from a friend and colleague, Steve Rottman, who, more often than I do, mediates at the lawyer’s offices. He sets up the condition that whoever has the convenience of holding the hearing in their office must pay for lunch and parking for all parties. This article discusses the importance of good faith gestures.
When You Inadvertently Magnify a Conflict (5/23/14) Tammy Lenski Conflict doesn't necessarily mean something fundamental has shifted in your business or personal relationship. It's possible the relationship is as sound and strong as it ever was. It's just hard to see that when the conflict is crowding out your wider view. I was reminded of this recently in an experience with a certain company whose services I use to manage a small digital aspect of my conflict resolution business.
Parenting, Mediation, and Divorce: Meeting the Needs of Our Children (5/16/14) Shannon Rios Paulsen Children are a huge source of love in our lives; they can say one sentence, bring a huge smile to our face, and remind us of the innocence of childhood. Children all deserve that time of play, laughter, and fun as they grow up. This article addresses what parents and other loved ones can do for children before, during and after a divorce. You can take this information and pass it along or decide to be mentor or positive role model for the children yourself.
Conflict is Contagious (5/16/14) Jeff Thompson Mediators, coaches, negotiators, and ombuds- your verbal and nonverbal actions are contagious. As "guides" in assisting people involved in conflicts and disputes, you can help or hinder them on their journey.
5 Steps for Resolving Conflict Within Your Marriage (5/07/14) Mary Aderibigbe Couples can resolve their grievances themselves through discussion. No marriage relationship is devoid of conflict, but if these challenges are properly managed, the marriage is strengthened. Couples should therefore show commitment to their relationships by working together to resolve problems. 1 Comment
Mediated Prenuptial Agreements Benefit Couples and Mediators (5/02/14) Michael Toebe The romance might be lacking in the thought and decision making but there might be relational wisdom in pursuing mediated prenuptial agreements and valuable marketing awareness as a byproduct for mediators. Couples often spend significant time planning a wedding, buying a house and cars, financial planning and how to best raise children, so a question that begs asking is why don't most marrying partners plan for better outcomes in the event a marriage eventually dissolves? 1 Comment
People Moving: Using the Dimension of Space to get “Unstuck” in Mediation (5/02/14) Jan Frankel Schau I read Ken Cloke’s newest book, “The Dance of Opposites” over the last weekend and then yesterday I attended an excellent training by my friends and colleagues at the IAM, Tracy Allen and Eric Galton at the United States District Court. They reminded me of a concept Tracy calls, “People Moving” as a means to getting the parties out of position that appears to be heading towards impasse or “stuck”. In essence, the concept is simple in both dancing and negotiating: if you stop moving, the dance is over.
I Am Better Than You Are! (5/02/14) Phyllis Pollack The Lake Wobegon effect, a natural human tendency to overestimate one's capabilities, is named after the town. The characterization of the fictional location, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average," has been used to describe a real and pervasive human tendency to overestimate one's achievements and capabilities in relation to others.
Are We Fixed or Fluid? Effects of Adolescent Beliefs on Responses to Victimization (4/26/14) Jen Hull Research has shown that interventions aimed at reducing aggression and violence in children yield mixed results when extended to adolescents. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that aggression can become increasingly violent or serious during adolescence. Thus, researchers have turned their attention to understanding the causes of adolescent aggression in response to victimization or exclusion.
The Five Stages (4/18/14) Phyllis Pollack In 2000, when I took my first mediation training class, my teacher discussed the five stages of loss and grief first proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The particular training course I was attending focused on divorce mediations and so the stages were relevant because of the loss and grief suffered by the parties in a divorce.
Children, Divorce, and Dating (4/15/14) Shannon Rios Paulsen In my role as a counselor for children of divorce, my focus is the children. Parents made a decision to divorce and they also made a decision to have children. It is my view that they must do all things possible to mitigate the effects of the divorce on their children. The question about dating arises in every session of “Co-parenting Through Your Divorce” that I facilitate. This article addresses this question for parents of divorce and for those who are dating others who are divorced with children.
5 Steps for Strengthening Your Marriage (4/14/14) Mary Aderibigbe You can make your marriage strong but you’ve got to acknowledge that disagreements are inevitable. Preventing conflict begins identifying what are common conflict points in your marriage. Preventing conflicts also means strengthening your marriage to withstand outside conflicts. This is a faith-based article discussing Biblical viewpoints for strengthening marriage.
The Importance of Mediation in Family Business Management (4/04/14) Joseph Berljawsky Managing a business can be difficult enough—but when your in-laws are the board of directors and your sister is the CEO, management of a family business can also become a contentious issue. Problems related to leadership and ownership of family businesses arise in a variety of situations. Sometimes there is a power struggle, other times people feel they have been treated unfairly or do not get enough of a say in the company.
Stupid Nice Things Good People Say (4/04/14) Vivian Scott Why is it that whenever someone shares disappointing or sad news with us our first inclination is to throw on a super-hero cape and deliver the perfect words that will make everything better? No matter our good intentions, what usually happens, though, is that we end up saying really stupid things—meant to be nice and comforting, mind you, but stupid nonetheless. This article shows you a few examples. 1 Comment
Marriage 101 for Family Mediators (3/29/14) Larry Gaughan Those of us who have been in the trenches of family law practice for decades have lots of experience with bad marriages. We each probably know more gruesome details about marriage breakups than we care to remember. But most of us also know the details to what makes a marriage great. 1 Comment
How Dating Can Cause Stress For Your Child (3/21/14) Shannon Rios Paulsen The truth about dating is that it can cause stress for your children. You impact their level of stress by your actions. It is my view that parents must do all things possible to mitigate the effects of the divorce on their children. One easy way to do this is to be conscious of your dating. Dating done wrong has the potential to cause stress for children for three crucial reasons, and they are important to understand. 3 Comments
It's All about the Relationship (3/14/14) Phyllis Pollack In 2000, I decided to move away from practicing law because I got tired of fighting with opposing counsel and being labeled and treated as the "bad guy" simply because I was representing an allegedly "bad guy". It seemed that civility and professionalism among lawyers no longer existed, and I and my clients were continuously lumped together as "hated and despised" individuals.