As a divorce coach and vocational expert in collaborative and mediated cases that are settled out of court, I have the privilege of supporting moms and dads needing to go back to work, as a result of their divorce. Typically the stay at home spouse has spent several years, often more than fifteen, out of the workplace. Much has changed technically and culturally since they last worked or went to school. They often feel afraid, overwhelmed and lost as they begin to take stock. It’s a lot to face; find a viable direction in today’s market, upgrade technical skills and financial savvy, prepare to attend school or job search, all while making the adjustment to single life.

…20 years later

There is often huge resentment and anger. Particularly for someone who with their spouse made the decision to give up/put on hold career or education, in order to raise children, only to find themselves on their own twenty years later. It may now be impossible to gain parity with the working spouse in terms of income and retirement savings. Divorce attorneys and financial experts can address this, and do a great job for you and your soon to be ex, but the fact remains there’s often considerable catching up to do.

Clients, who stayed in touch with former employers, worked part time or seasonally, volunteered in their community, took classes and kept up with technology and finances do better. Divorce is not something people typically plan on. Still it happens in half or more of all marriages. Don’t be blindsided or allow yourself to be put in a compromised position at any life stage. Stay involved in the working world at some level; cultivate resources, contacts and experience to draw on should you unfortunately need to. Despite the challenges, with a little time, support and actively taking steps, the transition to a new life can be inspirational and positively trans-formative.

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Gail Jean Nicholson, MA, LPC
Divorce Coach / Personal and Career Counselor
1020 SW Taylor St Ste 350
Portland, OR 97205
503-227-4250

Gail’s Website
Email Gail

 

 

The following are a few thoughts and some guidance on how best to prepare for your first mediation appointment.  It is often a stressful time, so a little preparation can help alleviate some of the anxiety and fear going into the mediation process.

1)    Take the pressure off yourselves.  The first mediation session is purposefully designed to be low conflict and low pressure in order to assess individual and family needs, questions, interests, and goals as well as building a foundation for a successful mediation outcome. During this initial meeting, typically between 1 and 2 hours in duration, you can create a roadmap together with steps and “action items” for each participant to move forward toward resolution and implementation of any agreements.  You may also address any time sensitive issues or concerns and brainstorm solutions during this first meeting and assess what other resources, if any, are needed.

2)    Choose format for first session.  Inquire with your chosen mediator whether he or she hosts in person and/ or virtually. Think about and choose the best option for all involved.

3)    Goal setting.  Ask your mediator for a handout or resources for ideas on typical topics that arise in separations and divorce, or if you have a different situation inquire about any preparation materials. It will be helpful to get more comfortable talking about your short- and long-term goals around issues such as housing, finances, and children (if applicable). It may also alleviate stress to practice talking with a friend, family member, or therapist about your vision and goals.

4)    Begin gathering documents.  This is optional ahead of mediation, and there is no requirement to bring in documents at your first session. That said, having a good sense of a “high level” overview of family finances such as approximate or average incomes, types of assets and debts, and overall current cash flow situation is helpful to share in the first stage of mediation.  This will help to better assess what resources or tools will be most efficient completing mediation. For example, getting acquainted with employee benefits such as stock options, whether a pension is vested, as well as life insurance details will help in preparedness for mediation.  

5)    Keep an open mind.  One of the barriers to a successful mediation can be one or both participants (or the mediator) having a rigid or fixed mindset on the division of assets, debts, or the payment of support. Often, issues are intertwined and creative solutions may be available to meet the approval and acceptance of all involved (including the court’s necessary approval in some areas). It is most helpful in mediation to allow brainstorming of different scenarios and “what ifs” as all discussion is confidential and without risk.  Once options are exchanged, then proceeding with evaluating and prioritizing what feels acceptable or not may be more effective to allow for the maximum likelihood of success.

6)    Coaching or therapy.  Sometimes barriers occur in the ability to communicate or be heard effectively, especially in the stressful family law transitions with often raw emotions and high conflict. Please reach out if you or a family member could benefit from talking to a divorce coach or mental health professional such as a therapist. A divorce coach is a professional trained to help people process any emotions surrounding a family issue and help provide support throughout the stages of separation or divorce if needed. Coaches and therapist can work with one person or both as well as children depending on the professional and scope of his or her role. In some cases, an employee assistance program (EAP) or health insurance may be utilized to reduce out of pocket costs.

7)    Legal consult.  This is optional at any stage of mediation.  In my experience working with families over the years, feedback from clients is having an initial consultation with a collaborative attorney ahead of a mediation session helped create a smooth path for mediation to move forward with less conflict. This attorney can also review drafts of documents ahead of signing and filing. Please keep in mind each professional may only assume one role (either mediator or consulting attorney). Bridges Divorce members are happy to provide a list of recommended collaborative attorneys or mediators if helpful.

Please reach out to anyone at our office if you have questions.  We are here to help and want to make it less stressful for everyone involved, as it’s already a difficult time for most participants.

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Tonya Alexander
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Alexander Law, PC
1925 NE Stucki Ave Ste 410
Hillsboro, OR 97006
503-531-9109

Tonya’s Website
Email Tonya

Strengths of Collaborative Divorce

One of the strengths of Collaborative Divorce is that it permits ownership and control of settlement process by the people most impacted by the settlement – the couple! The process responds to YOUR agenda, not the agenda of a lawyer or a judge or some other third party.

So – with that in mind, this Blog will not be a “lecture” on how I, as a lawyer, will tell you “how it is” or “how it should be.” Rather, this Blog is a place for you, the reader, to tell us “how it is” or “how it should be”.

Please post comments, thoughts, or questions and we’ll try to respond – in hopes of making our process better and more responsive to the people who really matter: the clients.

To learn more about the Collaborative Divorce process, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

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Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Admitted in Oregon ~ Practicing Statewide
503-241-3141

Randall’s Website
Email Randall

A Safe Place

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

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

 

To learn more about the Collaborative Divorce process, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

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Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Admitted in Oregon ~ Practicing Statewide
503-241-3141

Randall’s Website
Email Randall

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 Divorce. 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.

our process better and more responsive to the people who really matter: the clients.

To learn more about the Collaborative Divorce process, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

~~~

Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Admitted in Oregon ~ Practicing Statewide
503-241-3141

Randall’s Website
Email Randall