Men’s Divorce Recovery and Suicide

Divorce impacts nearly every aspect of individuals lives.  Given a choice between an IRS Audit and a Divorce – logic dictates the Audit every time!  Why?  The Audit only goes into the finances, not also monthly budgets, past-current-future purchases, parenting skills, the children’s futures and more.

The Huffington Post frequently includes articles about marital separation and divorce (kudos to them for mainstreaming it).  A recent article by a divorced father discusses the realities of divorce for a majority of men.  Noted in the article are great strategies for men to tackle divorce’s impacts, but also provides several compelling reasons for taking care.  One such reason is the statistically significant rate of suicide amongst male divorcees.

The bottom line is that this article is for everyone.  Those folks who are facing or recovering from divorce can easily isolate themselves – overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.  A caring friend or family member can pick up great tips in articles like these – it can make a major difference, potentially life altering.

Learn more about One Mediation and what it can do for families in transition at http://www.OneMediation.com.  One Mediation is a Georgia mediation firm that specialized in family law services, headquartered in Atlanta. 

Should You Defer to the Other Side’s Proposed Selection of a Mediator?

A quick “Google” on the topic of “how to select a mediator” will provide a bajillion articles…a good sample article here

Academics in the study of conflict communications and management might argue that the mediator need not understand the subject matter of the dispute (e.g., divorce, intellectual property, etc.), but can resolve any dispute by helping the parties focus on what the problem is and potential solutions.  There is truth in this stance.

Poll attorneys and many (if not most) will say that they want the mediator to know “the law” of the particular dispute.  If it is a divorce, the attorneys do not want a criminal defense attorney to serve as the mediator.  If it is a securities fraud matter, the attorneys do not want a family therapist to mediate the matter.  There is truth in this stance.

Once parties decide that they will mediate their dispute, too often they get bogged down in selecting who will mediate.  In getting knee deep in this “new dispute” of who will be the mediator, the battle of wills often is not about whether the mediator knows the subject matter or has the ability to manage conflict communications.  So, what is the right answer in this I want Mediator X; you want Mediator Y?

A heavily seasoned attorney for a global corporation spoke to the Dispute Resolution Section of the Atlanta Bar and said, off-handedly, that he didn’t really care (beyond the basics) who the mediator was and usually deferred to the other side’s desired mediator.  Why?  Two of the reasons he gave showed that he was a confident negotiator who really understood how mediation worked.

The first reason for deferring to the other side’s choice of mediators was that he could use any (any) mediator to do what needed to be done.  As a mediator, I think this statement is brilliant.  If a mediator is truly a neutral party and you are truly prepared to negotiate, you can and will use the mediator to help work with your client, to share messages with the other side, and to retrieve information from the other side, as needed.  Simply put, effectively using a mediator meant that he understood just how flexible the mediation process is and how creatively he could use the mediator (when you plan ahead or have significant experience negotiating) to get the settlement done.  Deal closed!

The second reason for deferring to the other side’s choice of mediators was that, since he knew how to use any mediator, he gained (or, perhaps, didn’t lose) a psychological advantage, if you will.  He noted that if the other side “didn’t get their way” on who the mediator was, the other party may arrive at mediation more emotionally charged than they otherwise would have been because they suffered a “loss,” even before the mediation session started.  The other party may also believe that the mediator is or will be more biased towards the other side, an opinion that may provoke the other side to be more aggressive, emotionally reactive, and ready to give up on negotiations more quickly because the odds were stacked against them from the outset.  

The bottom line is that in selecting a mediator, a factor that is often not discussed is the value of “giving in” to the other side on who the mediator will be.  So long as the mediator is worth his or her salt, deferring to the selection of the other side may be a strategic move towards setting the mediation up for success rather than failure.

 

 

Three Reasons Private Divorce Mediation Works

Private Divorce Mediation typically describes the instance where spouses agree to negotiate, before they file a petition for divorce or shortly after filing, the terms of their divorce using a mediator.  This process works for many couples and the reasons aren’t always the same. 

However, there are three common reasons that Private Divorce Mediation Works:

1.  The couple is prepared to talk turkey.  

    It is impossible to negotiate or agree to anything when you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Private Divorce Mediation works well for couples who have taken some time to take an inventory of assets and debts, what it will cost to live separately (if they’re not already living apart), and run multiple scenarios of what they believe would be a fair deal.  Divorcing parents also fare well when they’ve taken time to consider the costs of co-parenting, the logistics of visitation, what health insurance will cost for the kids, and have gotten information about the legal obligations and formulas related to child support.  When couples have no idea what an apartment or child care costs, the mediation can spend time obtaining that information at the mediator’s hourly rate and decisions can still be made, but the exercise can trigger emotional responses that set the discussions back.  

2.  The couple has used attorneys wisely.

    Divorce attorneys are most frequently used in three ways:  projects (like reviewing an agreement, drafting a will, settlement negotiations/mediation, etc.), consultation (providing information about your situation in the legal context), and retained for litigation (usually meaning paying a retainer and paying the attorney an hourly fee to handle all aspects of the litigation).  

Spouses who have “purchased” a few hours of consultation with an attorney before getting too deep into the divorce process are likely to have a much better experience because they are informed and aren’t going to make rookie mistakes (e.g., believing that they are entitled to an inheritance from their rich mother-in-law who is still living, sole custody of their child is a trophy that makes them a “better parent than the other,” etc.).  In some cases, couples can get the best bang for their buck by consulting an attorney, then mediating a tentative settlement agreement, and then go back to the attorney to review the tentative agreement for “approval” and filing with a court.  

Getting good legal information is critical to avoiding costly missteps and to negotiating from a position of confidence in Private Divorce Mediation.  And, certainly, the attorney is always invited to be at mediation!     

3.  The couple is more interested in moving forward than in fighting.

Private Divorce Mediation is a process where the mediator will facilitate discussions being focused on attacking the issues of divorce rather than on attacking each other.  However, the emotional progression of divorce (denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance) plays a prominent role in whether emotions will prevent productive discussions to occur.  In short, there typically needs to be a healthy portion of “acceptance”  or enough acceptance on both sides of the table for Private Divorce Mediation to work.

Couples who are no longer living together often are living the reality of a future apart.  They have already faced and addressed changes associated with divorce and have them behind them (e.g., they know what it will cost to live alone, etc.).  As such, many of the fears sparked by change are no longer flashing and those emotions are less likely to derail discussions about the terms of the divorce.

One Mediation offers Private Divorce Mediation services in Atlanta, Georgia through a panel of experienced, professional divorce mediators.  Visit us online at http://www.onemediation.com for more information about divorce mediation, seminars, and appointments. 

Tips on How to Successfully Mediate Temporary Orders in a Divorce Case

Today’s guest blogger is Scott Morgan. Scott is a Texas board certified family law attorney who has practiced divorce and family law since 1994. Today he shares with us his perspective on how to successfully mediate temporary orders issues in a divorce case.

As a practicing divorce attorney I believe that one of the most important phases of a divorce case is the temporary orders stage. In some jurisdictions the parties agree to and attend mediation to attempt to reach an agreement on the temporary orders. In other jurisdictions (such as many of the courts in which I practice) attending mediation is mandatory prior to a temporary orders hearing. Below are what I believe are the keys to successfully mediating temporary orders.

Prepare for Mediation as Extensively as You Would for a Hearing

Lawyers will often under-prepare for mediation, especially one solely for temporary orders. I’m not sure why this is, possibliy because the environment is a relatively relaxed one as compared to a courtroom. Nonetheless, the temporary orders set the tone for the litigation going forward. Whatever is agreed to will likely be very difficult to undo later.

For example, if the husband ultimately wishes to obtain primary custody of the children in the final order, it is probably a significant mistake for him to agree that wife get primary custody on a temporary basis. Doing so allows the other side the later argument that since he agreed for wife to have primary custody on a temporary basis he must have felt that this was in the children’s best interest. Absent some dramatic change of circumstance husband will be hard-pressed at trial to explain why this was in the children’s best interest then but not now. All of these kinds of significant issues and positions should be discussed in detail with the client prior to attending mediation.

Prep the Client for Mediation

At times experienced lawyers will be fairly certain what the temporary orders ought to be based on past experience with similar cases and knowledge of the judge’s tendencies on these issues. That is all very helpful. What is not helpful is when the lawyer begins to negotiate these terms without involving the client and getting his or her buy-in. The worst thing you can do is negotiate excellent settlement terms only to then have the client upset because the terms don’t seem so excellent to them. Make sure the client is involved with and approving of any terms that are proposed.

Don’t Be Scared of the Courthouse

I am always of the belief that a reasonable settlement is in the client’s best interest. The key word here is “reasonable.” Battling it out at the courthouse should be reserved for those issues where it is simply not possible to reach a reasonable resolution. With the growing trend towards mediation over my career I have noticed that some lawyers become so committed to the process that they cease to view court as an available option. While I like settling cases just as much as anyone else, it is a mistake to limit yourself in this way. The opposing attorney needs to know that you’re willing to go to the courthouse to protect your client’s rights if necessary in order to get a fair result.

Conclusion

As important as temporary orders are in divorce litigation they are frequently not given as much attention by attorneys as they deserve, especially at mediation. Proper preparation and a willingness to do whatever it takes to obtain a fair and reasonable result will dramatically improve your chances of a successful outcome.

About the Author

Scott Morgan is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm, a Texas firm with offices in Houston, Austin, and Sugar Land.