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Mediation as an Option

Is Mediation a good alternative for us?

Mediation is a way of resolving a dispute with the help of an impartial person (the mediator). The neutral mediator helps both of you discuss personal concerns and, if possible, reach a voluntary agreement. The mediator helps you both think about your individual needs and interests, clarify your differences with the other person and find common ground.

In mediation:

  • You are the decision-maker: the mediator has no authority to make decisions.
  • You determine the issues that need to be addressed: the mediator guides the process and maintains a safe environment.

    Family Mediation

    Formal, adversarial, public OR thoughtful, cooperative, private: Which approach works for you?

  • The mediator uses and helps you to use active listening skills.
  • The mediator does not give legal or other professional advice to either of you. The mediator may help you think of options to consider, possibly with the help and advice of another professional.
  • Mediation is usually private. If not, the reason why is explained before beginning mediation. You have a right to quit mediation at any time.
  • Agreements are reached only when you both agree.

Mediation is sometimes described as facilitated or assisted negotiation.  This option works best when the parties are able to sit together and, with the mediator’s help, develop problem-solving solutions on their own. Of course, some families will require more support than mediation provides (see “What is Collaborative Divorce?” page).

Bridges members are available to help parties mediate their family disputes, in a private, neutral and safe process.  We have extensive training in negotiation and conflict resolution techniques. Our role is to ensure that the process remains respectful and works to develop win-win solutions that might not otherwise occur within the families.

Divorce Knowledge Kit

Is Collaborative Divorce right for you? Download your free knowledge kit quickly and easily.

This free information packet was created by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) as a tool to educate you both about Collaborative Practice. The PDF format can safely be downloaded onto your hard drive and emailed, or it can be printed as a portable and easy-to-read “hard copy.”

The kit contains the following:

  • A comparison chart: “Collaborative Divorce vs. Litigation Divorce.”
  • Case studies highlighting the flexible, solution-oriented process of Collaborative Divorce.
  • General information about Collaborative Divorce and how it can benefit you.
 

Download your free Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit and discover if collaborative divorce will work for you. Used with permission of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals. The download is a single PDF “kit” file.

IACP Forum, Lake Las Vegas

IACP Forum

17th Annual Networking and Educational Forum

October 27-30, 2016
Hilton / Lake Las Vegas

IACP 2016

What is Collaborative Practice?

Several of your Bridges Divorce professionals are back from the world collaborative conference in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

IACP is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, an international community of legal, mental health and financial professionals working in concert to create client-centered processes for resolving conflict.

Vision

Transform how conflict is resolved worldwide through Collaborative Practice.

Mission

IACP supports Collaborative Practice as a conflict resolution option worldwide by:

  • establishing and upholding the essential elements, ethical and practice standards of Collaborative Practice;
  • fostering professional excellence by educating and providing resources to Collaborative practitioners;
  • leading and integrating the Collaborative community; and
  • promoting the growth of Collaborative Practice.

FAQ – Fall 2016

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • I’m worried that my spouse might not be fair to me in the divorce process. How can we try to work together in a peaceful process but still make sure I am taking care of myself?
Forrest Collins

Forrest Collins, Attorney-Mediator, dedicated to resolving your case outside of court in a respectful, cost-effective way.

Divorce is stressful and scary so your question is a very typical one. You (and your spouse, if he/she is willing) could schedule a consultation with any Bridges professional and learn about your options for working together on a peaceful divorce that takes care of the needs of all family members (especially children). Bridges members are all very experienced in helping individuals and couples find the best option to fit the unique circumstances of their family and, after consultation, will advise you whether it seems like your situation is a good fit for a non-court process.

  • If there has been a major breach of trust (such as an affair) is it even possible for a couple to work together on their divorce?

Yes, it is possible for couples who start with a low level of trust in each other to work together in a process that will be both sale and transparent. While such work is not always easy, it is usually much less stressful and expensive than using the court model.

  • How can we decide whether mediation or Collaborative law fit our situation best?

All of the Bridges professionals are experienced in both mediation and Collaborative law and a consult with them to discuss your family’s specific situation is the best way to determine which of these peaceful options are the best fir for you?

Why Mediation?

. . .why not just “ask the judge?”

  • Mediation is a confidential process for resolving disputes. A neutral professional mediator assists the parties to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of their issues. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions, but assists people in sharing information, identifying goals and discussing options. Mediation offers a very cost-effective and less invasive alternative to the traditional litigation process. For most families, there is nothing of value to be found in court. The people in the conflict are far more familiar with the problems to be solved, and better able to clearly communicate what each needs to feel heard, respected, and treated fairly.
  • Mediation is sometimes described as facilitated or assisted negotiation. This option works best when the parties are able to sit together and, with the mediator’s help, develop problem-solving solutions on their own.  Of course, some families will require more support than mediation provides (see “What is Collaborative Divorce?” page).
  • Bridges professionals are available to help parties mediate their family disputes, in a private, neutral and safe process. We have extensive training in negotiation and conflict resolution techniques. Our role is to ensure that the process remains respectful and works to develop win-win solutions that might not otherwise occur within the families.

    Thanks for Stephens’ Squibs Legal Blog

    Does an over-worked guy like this REALLY know what’s best for YOUR family?

  • Finally, the judge is the just the “decider.” The courts are crowded, rigid and public. Even if you insist on “seeing the other side in court,” rules of evidence and time pressure usually won’t allow you to satisfy your desire to be heard. A mediated solution is a hand-crafted solution.

Why Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce

Randy [Original Resolution]

Randall Poff, Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

Most folks don’t want the typical (usually awful) American divorce. Instead, they want a respectful process that makes one of life’s hardest transitions as smooth as possible for themselves and their families. For some families, mediation won’t work but they don’t want to go to court. A Collaborative Divorce helps participants to be their best selves at this tough time, rather than being dragged down into the whirlpool of anger and sadness that can greatly damage family relationships for many, many years to come, or even forever.

With a Collaborative Divorce, each spouse has their own attorney and the attorneys are committed to working together to come to an agreement. Coaches are usually a good idea. Other specialists (e.g., Child, Financial, Appraiser) are called upon, as needed, in a given situation.

Stories about People Who Chose Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce Summaries:

 

  • A couple who had once been childhood sweethearts could not keep communication civil. Tensions increased as custodial issues regarding their five-year-old son arose. The breaking point for the couple led them to Collaborative Divorce where they learned how to communicate with each other to enable the healthy development of their son. The collaborative process also solved the custodial issues by giving each parent shared custody and arranging a financial plan where both parents contribute to costs relating to their son and both are able to monitor the spending of the money.

    Collaborative Divorce

    Will it work for me?

  • A music executive and his financially dependent wife decide to get divorced. They have a 5-year old daughter. Collaborative Divorce helped the couple navigate a complicated financial arrangement, as well as the tricky issue of the daughter’s contact with the wife’s new boyfriend and the wife’s pregnancy with the new boyfriend.
  • A couple, married for 16 years, entered into a “new” relationship with the help of Collaborative Divorce. Having a team of lawyers, a child psychologist and a financial planner allowed the family to talk through a fair financial arrangement and to meet the needs of the children. Collaborative Divorce helped the couple keep their perspective of what is important. The entire process only took six months and both parents still meet once a week to give each other updates on what has happened the previous week in the children’s lives.
  • It was husband’s second marriage, his first wife had taken off and was out of the picture. His current wife, the stepmother of his children, was the only effective mother his two kids had ever known and due to fertility issues they were the only kids that she would ever have. Ordinarily, she would have had no parental rights, but Collaborative Divorce ensured that she stayed in the kids’ lives.
  • A husband and wife, both ministers and with four kids, were living happily with the husband’s partner as a part of one family and under one roof. The partner wanted to come out, ultimately leading to a divorce trauma for the family. Collaborative Divorce restored the friendship that had been in danger of being lost and allowed the family to reach an acceptable solution.
  • Two parents had a special needs child that was the subject of their financial conflict. Collaborative Divorce not only enabled them to refocus their discussion and come to an agreement, but to continue to work together after the divorce to make sure that both their children receive the care and support that they need.
  • Several years after a rough legal battle, Mary and Stan decided to modify their originally litigated divorce settlement. Collaborative Divorce allowed them to do this so amicably that Stan even offered to help Mary out of a financial rough spot after the divorce modification was over.
  • Five kids from age 5 to 16. Co-owned auto mechanic business. Mom had no intention of recognizing dad’s participation and contribution to lives of children. He was raised Catholic. Dad initiated a Collaborative Divorce and was first to buy into process. Wife had never been a disciplinarian. Father wanted teenage kids to get part-time jobs. Although the parents had very different family philosophies, they finally settled on an “even” parenting plan and equal division of the business. Mom ended up meeting an attorney whom she is marrying.
  • A stay-at-home-mom (very photogenic) was married to a wealthy physician for 30 years. After their adult-daughter went to collage, mother decided on divorce so she could “breathe,” but wanted her daughter to feel as if mother was in no way taking advantage of father in the divorce process. Wife wanted divorce, husband was destroyed and adamant that case be concluded immediately. She wanted to honor husband, including all he had done to build the marital estate and she wanted to conduct the divorce process in the least painful manner possible. Wife was also determined to have no regrets, either about the decision or the process of separation. Wife was liberated on a spiritual level by Collaborative Divorce by maintaining peace and integrity throughout the separation, doing it in the most honorable way possible.
  • Lee Hamilton

    Lee Hamilton, MA, Divorce Coach and Mediator

    The entrepreneurial nature of the father’s work put a lot of drama and stress into the couple’s 28-year relationship. With the children off to college, the wife decided to initiate divorce proceedings. They chose Collaborative Divorce, which helped sort out their confusion and questions regarding the separation after so many years of marriage. Both individuals left the experience affirming the time they were married, respecting each other and understanding their divergent paths.

  • Collaborative Divorce saved the marriage. Wife initiated the proceedings after years of frustration of feeling like the odd-person-out in the family. The collaborative team helped establish a less hostile environment to proceed with the divorce and facilitated communication between the couple that in the end caused them to stay together and work out their problems through counseling.

Collaborative Divorce Video: A safe place

Collaborative Divorce Video

A safe place

Watch this recent video, Collaborative Divorce: A Safe Placeand follow the true-life story of one couple going through their own collaborative divorce.

Video_collaborative-divorce

Microsoft Silverlight required: A free web-browser plug-in that enables interactive media. Windows? Check. Mac? Check. Linux? Check. Silverlight works on all major OS’s plus all major browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and yes, even Internet Explorer

 

IACP

Questions & Answers (FAQs) from IACP

Collaborative Divorce: A Safe Place is a twenty minute video produced and hosted by the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), used by permission.

What is Co-Mediation?

Many family mediation matters are handled effectively by a single mediator, but there are also situations in which two professional heads working together are better than one.

Tonya Alexander, Collaborative Attorney & Mediator

Co-mediation involves two trained professionals (usually one lawyer and one with a mental health background or financial background) working together with the family as a 4-person settlement team. If the case involves difficult emotions or complex issues, two mediators with different professional backgrounds may assist the couple to reach better, faster and more enduring agreements. For example, financial decisions may be intertwined with emotional or kid-focused issues. Two mediators take turns “in the lead.” and can be better able to observe and keep notes.  Two mediators help ensure that both parties remain engaged and feel heard in the process, even when the circumstances of the case make that a challenge. Co-mediation allows mediators with different backgrounds and varied skills to work together in a complementary way to provide a full range of assistance that many families require. Alternatively, family members may mediate with the professionals in separate sessions, depending on the topic or work needed.

Engaging two mediators will most likely cost more than a session with just one professional.

However, co-mediation can offer tremendous synergy to the family and may result in a more efficient, effective process. Most families using co-mediation remark that the additional expense was value-added and well worth the upfront cost. Families should have access to a full range of peaceful options to help them address their unique challenges. The Bridges professional(s) that you consult with can discuss co-mediation with you and your family to see if this option is one that best fits your needs, or whether another option, such as collaborative method or pure mediation is preferable.

Giving Thanks After a Split

When you’re a child of divorce, holiday celebrations can come with a lot of baggage.Kids Give Thanks

Check out this “first-person” article about new Thanksgiving “traditions.”

[click the turkey]

Thanksiving_Divorce“On a holiday devoted to gratitude, it makes sense to let go of grudges, set aside differences, and focus on the positive.” ~Aisha Harris

 

Collaborating collaborators….

Your Bridges’ professionals took Veterans’ Day away from their offices to honor vets and learn from and with about forty local collaborating professionals. We spent the day engaged and engaging with our peers.

  • 1111151254 (960x1280)

    “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

    Tonya started the conference with her presentation on What? Why? How? When? The Essential Questions for Collaboration.

  • Dona was inspirational with her talk on The Power of Purpose.
  • Forrest gave the road map of his changing practice, from full service law firm to strictly collaboration and mediation, all without losing his “lawyer-identity.”
  • Gail spoke about her passion for Vocational Choice in Collaborative Cases.
  • Lee gave her own story, Helicoptering into the Fire (or, My Journey Toward Boldness).

Bridges professionals will always keep honing our skills, so your family can achieve the best possible results.

L-R: Randy, Gail, Tonya, Dona, Lee, Forrest & Kelsey

L-R: Randy, Gail, Tonya, Dona, Lee, Forrest & Kelsey