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As a former litigator turned mediator, I'm frequently asked why divorce mediation works. My response is a list of benefits: "faster, costs less, resolves conflict, calms emotions instead of amping everyone up." But today, when reading Teri McCowen's blog on ChickChainWalkingClub.com about the power of listening, I realized I haven't been answering the question of why mediation works. Teri hit the nail on the head in her description of what it feels like to be with a master listener. read
Divorced couples cannot be required to resolve their post-divorce disputes through mediation if there has been an entry of a final restraining order based on a finding of domestic violence, even if existing property settlement agreements call for disputes to be worked through by mediators, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled. read
By most measures, the U.S. economy is healthy and recovered from its recent recession. Job growth has been healthy for the past year. The U.S. Commerce Department reported on March 27 the biggest gain in consumer spending in eight years. Housing prices are rebounding as home sales are growing. Expect one more statistic to rise: the divorce rate. read
SINGAPORE - Almost 5,000 divorcing couples have gone through a compulsory mediation and counselling programme aimed at helping them reduce the acrimony as they sort out disputes over their children. About four out of five couples agreed on key parenting decisions after attending the sessions, a Family Justice Courts spokesman told The Sunday Times. The courts had found that many couples fight over custody and care issues, such as which parent the child will live with after the divorce and how much time the other parent will get to spend with the child. The mediation and counselling programme, which involves the couples' lawyers as well, aims to protect the child's welfare. "This drastically lowers the risk of children being caught in the bitterness between warring and insecure parents," the spokesman said. "Children will be more secure and less traumatised by the breakdown of their parents' relationship." read
A husband and wife can not be compelled to engage in mediation at their own expense as a condition of their being permitted to file actions in the future to enforce or modify the terms of their divorce, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has found. The husband argued that his right to free access to the courts under Article 11 of the Declaration of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution was violated by a clause in his divorce decree requiring the parties to engage in, and pay for, court-directed mediation before either could file any subsequent action in court. The Appeals Court agreed. read
Attorneys for Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider, and his three children from previous marriages, squared off in probate court in San Francisco on Monday and agreed to private mediation, hoping to settle a dispute regarding the contents of his estate. read
Hiring a mediator can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees—and even more if a judgment goes against you, as a recent Weekend Investor story explained. Some states require divorcing couples to explore mediation first. Mediation is also an option in some disputes between investors and stockbrokers, an employer and a former employee, business partners parting ways or parties to a commercial contract. The process isn’t meant to be adversarial. “Win-lose as a bargaining model puts most of the benefits of mediation into a black hole,” says Michele Lowrance, a retired judge in Chicago who works as a mediator with JAMS, an alternative dispute-resolution provider based in Irvine, Calif. But there are still ways to protect yourself – and even gain an advantage – when entering mediation. read
Divorcing parents: you can be super heroes to your children. Here's the plot twist: becoming their super hero means accepting that your children deserve to experience both a "Super-Mom" and "Super-Dad." Your marriage is ending, but your relationship as co-parents continues. Please consider these four commitments you can make as co-parents that will change the course of your children's lives and in the process, possibly save yours too. read
A University of Missouri researcher has found that even if just one member of a couple stops driving, negative consequences result for both the driver and non-driver. The researcher recommends that the elderly, and their adult children, carefully discuss and plan for the transition to driving cessation. "These are complicated, difficult decisions, and mediation of the discussion can often be helpful.” read
Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon tells his counterparts in member-states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to consider co-mediation in dealing with cross-border child custody rows. read
In our present-day civilization people are not often well prepared for cooperation. Our training has been too much considering what we can get out of life, rather than what we can give to it.
Family & Divorce Mediation Articles
Divorce: Emergency Tumor Removal Surgery (5/01/15) Don Cripe Analogizing health care with other emergent situations may be a stretch to some, but it is valid. Couples on the bumpy glide to divorce are almost always in pain; they are facing one of the most dramatic life changes they will ever experience (some social scientists liken divorce to the death of a family member); the finances of the crisis are always a concern; and life after divorce will be disrupted for an indefinite time.
Family Mediation In The Digital Age (4/17/15) Sherri Donovan Twenty-first century technology will continue to impact family life and mediation. The family mediator’s awareness of the possible positive and inflammatory influences of the internet, may be instrumental in effectively identifying and resolving the modern family’s disputes. Social media, cyber abuse, the child’s computer voice, the use of a forensic computer expert and the futuristic divorce are factors to be considered in the practice of family mediation.
Domestic Violence Finding Overrides Agreement to Mediate (4/17/15) Mary Novak A case in the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court stands as a reminder of the complexities of family mediation when domestic violence is involved. Indeed, the court found that a finding of domestic violence can trump a requirement to mediate.
How to Make Mediation Safer in Cases of High Conflict (4/10/15) Kristen Blankley This article considers issues of safety in mediation. Mediation involves parties in conflict, and safety should be a priority of all mediators. Mediators should be aware of both participant and mediator safety throughout the process. This article considers practical advice for all mediators to consider before, during, and after a mediation session to ensure participant and mediator safety.
Juries of Their Peers (4/10/15) Maria Simpson When I was in fourth grade, a few millennia ago, our teacher established a system so we could settle a lot of our own disputes. General mischief-maker, Walter, was elected judge, a decision that completely confounded our teacher, and the class was the jury. We explained our choice of Walter as judge by saying that judges always behave well, and if Walter were judge, he would have to behave better than usual. It was completely logical to us, but I’ll bet the teacher would never have seen that possibility and would have continued to discipline Walter rather than offer opportunity.
National Divorce Survey Yields Surprising Insights (4/03/15) John Licciardello Divorce is as popular as ever in America, with over 50% of first marriages and 70% of second marriages ending prematurely. In addition to traditional litigation couples are increasingly turning to mediation and the “do it yourself” pro se divorce process in the quest to have “successful” divorces as measured by satisfactory settlements, minimal relationship damage and reasonable cost.
Family Law Arbitration Act (3/31/15) Susan Yates People who have been involved with family law are likely to have encountered mediation, especially in child-related issues. But what about arbitration?
Book Review: The Master Agreement by Jay Bultz (3/25/15) Donald T. Saposnek The Master Agreement offers a comprehensive manual of issues, clauses and phrases for use in drafting Marital Settlement Agreements. The author capably provides a collection of relevant issues and then a multitude of options for clauses to include in your divorce and separation agreements. This book is unique, of very high quality, will save you time and elevate the quality of your drafting.
The Future of Family Dispute Resolution: Mediation as a Piece of the Puzzle (3/20/15) Peter Salem Had I written about the future of family dispute resolution in the late 1980s, when I was a young and enthusiastic child custody mediator working for a Wisconsin family court agency, I would probably have focused exclusively on mediation rather than considering the current broad spectrum of family dispute resolution (FDR) processes that I did not anticipate at the time.
Minnesota Considers Moving Divorce out of Court (3/13/15) Dan Simon “In our culture, court means contest – it means a fight. . . we’ve culturally viewed divorce as a battle” says Bill Doherty. Doherty says that, no matter how well-intentioned the lawyers, the assumption that judicial supervision is needed greatly increases the risk of destructive conflict arising. Doherty believes that, very often, couples who get divorced without the help of lawyers do better than they would with lawyers. Doherty’s plan takes divorce entirely outside the courts.
Family Mediation - Preface (3/12/15) Lisa Parkinson The Children and Families Act 2014 is focusing more attention on the role of family mediation in the family justice system. Family mediators have been given greater responsibility to encourage consideration of non-court dispute resolution processes before application is made to the family court, and to assess the suitability of mediation in particular circumstances.
“Good Faith” vs. “Naive Realism”? (3/06/15) Phyllis Pollack Perhaps I am an idealist, or even though a baby boomer with many years of litigation experience behind me— a bit naïve. Or –perhaps it is because I am a mediator and so am privy to both sides of the dispute and can see the “story” as an outsider or bystander. I do not know.
Where Does Marital Mediation Fit In? (3/02/15) Laurie Israel During the past quarter century, academics and others writing about mediation have characterized styles of mediation as belonging to one of three categories: “facilitative,” “evaluative,” and “transformative”. The categories are quite clearly defined.
Musings on Mediators, Pizza-Makers, and Humanity (3/02/15) Henry Brown I began this article on the future of mediation practice at what I thought, reasonably enough, was the beginning. Discussing how I came to New York in 1985 to train with John Haynes on a new approach to managing disputes that at that time had not yet found its way to the United Kingdom where I practised as a solicitor. However, In the course of writing and reviewing this piece, it began to dawn on me that while the trip was my conscious recollection of the beginning, it was not the actual beginning of my attraction, engagement and investment in what has become a personally and professionally fulfilling career.
Mediating Divorce Agreements: The Problems and the Potential (2/26/15) Larry Gaughan It was really exciting to be part of the divorce mediation movement when it became national around 1980. Almost everyone seemed to be aware of the problems with the adversarial system of divorce, and mediation held the promise of a process that was more personal and far less expensive and time consuming. Mediation training was mainly focused on divorce agreements, and those training courses rapidly became a major source of income for the trainers.
Federal Judge Orders Sugar Land Nursing Home Visitation Dispute to Mediation (2/20/15) Beth Graham A Sugar Land nursing home dispute that arose after an elderly resident’s family was banned from a long-term care facility over a number of social media posts has reportedly been ordered to mediation. According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas, Silverado Senior Living barred a woman’s two sons and daughter-in-law from the premises after the individuals refused to remove several photos and videos of their mother at the facility from their social media accounts.
Court ADR Trends for 2015 (2/17/15) Mary Novak Last year perhaps the most visible trend in court ADR was the courts’ use of mediation to address truly large-scale crises. From the mediators who helped opposing groups reach the Grand Bargain that led Detroit out of bankruptcy, to the mediations being used to address thousands of insurance claims that remain from Hurricane Sandy, courts essentially created ad-hoc ADR programs to respond to major crises.
Looking to the Future: Is There Still A Place For Proactive, Early Intervention Mediation in Our Changing Field? (1/13/15) Nina Meierding In the author's experience as a mediator in over 4,000 cases and in almost thirty years of working with advocates, consulting attorneys, and collaborative lawyers, she believes that all forms of mediation are valuable processes which each have their place in helping parties move forward in their conflicts. She takes no position on the "best" process, only that self-determination remains the ultimate goal of any form of mediation. She is hopeful that mediators, participants, and attorneys will re-examine the trend of late intervention, lawyer-centric mediation and bring pro-active, early mediation back as one of the important focuses of the mediation field.
The Critical Role of Mediation in Bridging the Access to Justice Gap (1/09/15) Robyn McDonald For more than a decade, Colorado has worked to provide access to justice (ATJ) for its indigent and modest means citizenry. Despite efforts by the bar and the courts, the state continues to struggle in its pursuit. What has been so often overlooked, however, is how mediation provides the courts and litigants an affordable, efficient option to resolving many disputes.
Alimony in PA: Friend or Foe in Divorce? (1/09/15) Cris Pastore Alimony has become the "black sheep" of divorce law, often viewed as evil, spiteful and punitive. In my opinion, these perceptions are greatly misguided. I see alimony as entirely moral and appropriate, but only when it is necessary. Read my article to understand why.
Selma (1/09/15) Joe Markowitz Was there ever an opportunity for peaceful resolution of this civil rights conflict? We see President Johnson acting at times a little bit like a mediator between King and Governor Wallace, but no real attempt was made at creating a dialogue that could resolve the dispute.
Violencia Familiar y ODR - Video en Espanol (1/07/15) Maria Eugenia Sole ¿Cómo podemos definir la violencia familiar? En primer lugar, podemos decir que la violencia familiar o violencia doméstica es cualquier forma de abuso entre los miembros de una misma familia, de un miembro a otro miembro. Este abuso generalmente causa un daño físico o psicológico a este miembro de la familia.
4 Tips for a Stress-Free New Years (12/26/14) Tammy Lenski The holidays can be a cheerful time — with plenty of work, it seems. But with loads of family smashed into tiny spaces, many find themselves feeling less than jolly. Lashing out is common around the holidays. But Dr. Tammy Lenski, a conflict resolution trainer and author of The Conflict Pivot: Turning Conflict into Peace of Mind, has a few tips for keeping your gathering from turning into a war zone.
Giving Yourself Permission (12/26/14) Phyllis Pollack The holidays are upon us, and with them come the usual stress and tension that family events often bring. Over Thanksgiving, I had an experience that put it in perspective for me. Although I am supposed to be the conflict resolution person, it was a cousin that gave me a very much needed "reality check", if not "permission" to think differently about family loyalty.
6 Reasons You Need a Prenup (12/19/14) Bruce Provda Many divorces happen because of financial problems. A prenup forces both parties to look at — and reveal — their financial picture. An open discussion about finance may help to build a firm foundation for marriage.
Retire Already! Why? (12/12/14) Larry Susskind This article discusses retirement in non-traditional fields such as mediation and teaching. Should there be a set retirement age?
My Least Favorite Part of Conflict (12/01/14) Meredith Richardson My least favorite part of conflict is not the conflict itself, nor is it any argument that may result. It's the aftermath. It could be that the conflict remains unresolved. It could be that things were said that deeply hurt one or both people, and that hurt feelings have been lingering for quite some time and only recently voiced.
Themes in Mediation (11/10/14) Michael Scott Hidden beneath the arguments of a couple in mediation there is a repeating theme. The argument is like Joseph’s coat of many colors. Each disagreement on the surface appears to be about something different, like one of the many colors on the coat. Under the coat, however, there is only Joseph, who remains mostly unchanged.
The Shocking Cost of Divorce in PA (10/31/14) Cris Pastore The added expense of living in two separate households may be obvious in a divorce case, but have you also budgeted for the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer to go to court? Read this article to gain a full understanding of the fees associated with a divorce lawyer and understand why divorce mediation may the better option for you.
Dividing Stuff (10/24/14) Dr. Lynne C. Halem Most people do not think of their household belongings as assets. It is, after all, just “stuff”. Except, that is, if asked to view the stuff as property subject to division in divorce. Then, suddenly, even the smallest or most insignificant items are seen in a whole new light, indeed take on a whole new value.
Gender and Decision-Making (10/24/14) Maria Simpson Men and women are pretty much equally good decision-makers when under low stress levels, but “When stressed, men are more prone to taking risky bets with little payoff.”
Mediation - The Savvy Choice (10/21/14) Morna Ellis Elder mediation can be helpful for families trying to make difficult decisions. It helps children and parents make decisions that include everyone's opinions.
Fall is a Time to Reap What You've Sown (10/21/14) Meredith Richardson Fall is in the air. The nights are cooler and longer. The apples at local farms are almost ready to be picked. If you've been taking care of yourself and your relationships, then spending time at home with your loved ones may be quite pleasant.
When You Might Need Mediation After Divorce (10/13/14) Cris Pastore When the divorce mediation process succeeds, spouses and their families often report a tremendous benefit from having chosen the option. However, there are still times when ex-spouses, even if they remain amicable after divorce, may need post-divorce mediation.
Compassion for Your Clients (10/13/14) Sarah Peyton One surprising way to think about trauma is not by measuring the magnitude of the horrific event, but rather by measuring the extent to which the person who experiences the tragedy is left alone with it. This article provides a useful reminder that we can never understand the pain that our clients have encountered, and that we might be providing one of the only safe places in their life for them to discuss what they are going through.
How to Mediate High-Conflict Cases: Balance and Control (10/05/14) Jennifer Shack Like a lot of ADR researchers, I’m always interested to know what really happens in the black box that is the mediation session. So, when someone pries the box open to look inside, my eyes light up. Researchers have begun using conversation analysis to uncover what happens in mediation that leads to successful outcomes. The latest contribution to this research comes from Norway, with a study of 154 custody mediations.
I Hate When He . . . (10/04/14) Cinnie Noble Lately I have been hearing several of my friends complaining about their life partners. It seems it is more than usual, but maybe I am just more aware of their plaints these days for some reason. The gripes typically start with “I hate when he (or she)…” and the “odious” acts, as they perceive them, may be how the person answers the phone, eats, flosses, leaves laundry on the floor, makes puns, and on and on.
Creating A Foundation for Cohabitation (10/03/14) Halee Burg You are in a committed relationship. You and your significant other desire to live together but are not ready for or interested in marriage. You decide to rent or purchase a property together, or to move into a place one of you currently rents or owns. You are in good company, joining over eight million cohabiting couples in the United States.