Invitation to Private Divorce Mediation

The phone rings at One Mediation.  The caller wants to mediate the divorce, but has no idea whether the other spouse will do it.  Mediation requires both spouses to agree to participate in the process, so now what?

Private divorce mediation firms often offer simple solutions.

At One Mediation, for example, the office will contact the other spouse to extend an invitation to mediate and to share divorce mediation resources.  Sometimes this is done by email with an invitation to contact the office to answer questions and more.  Other times, the inviting spouse lets the other spouse know that One Mediation will be giving them a call about a mediation appointment.  Sometimes getting the conversation started is the beginning of productive dialogue and resolution.

Communication issues?  A mediator can help.  Call to find out more or register for divorce seminars in your neighborhood.  April 17th, One Mediation will be offering its “Crash Course Divorce” that provides a solid overview of the legal process of divorce in Georgia.  Call 404-720-0599 or go to http://www.onemediation.com for more information.

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Private Divorce Mediation: Nuances

Actually, many options exist for getting a divorce – often, it just is a matter of how much time at the courthouse a couple will spend.  Private divorce mediation is one way that many couples spend minimal time at the courthouse to obtain their divorce decree.

Private divorce mediation refers to the mutual decision of a couple to participate in mediation in order to resolve the issues of their divorce.  Often, private divorce mediation occurs before a petition is filed with any court.  In other situations, the petition is pending with the court, and the couple has decided to mediate without any order from the court directing them to do so.   Which time is right?  Well, neither.  But, one time may be more conducive to successful negotiations than the other depending on the various nuances of the situation.

Nuances:  Acceptance and Information.  

Acceptance.   There are degrees of acceptance of divorce.   For purposes of private divorce mediation, it simply has to be sufficient that the couple can and will work on the issues instead of on each other.

Where both spouses have a high level of acceptance that the family will change drastically, there often is a commensurate degree of motivation to get to the other side.   Couples who are separated and living apart often have a better understanding of the change because they are living it every day when they wake up and every night when they go to sleep.  The separation is increasingly familiar.  They know what it is costing to live without the other spouse, both financially, socially, and logistically.   This familiarity with the impending future sometimes diminishes the fear and hurt of the break-up substantially.  With emotions running lower, couples often are in a better position to make more rational decisions about divorce – whether in mediation or other settlement discussions.

Information.  To negotiate about anything, you have to know what you’re talking about.  Excluding the children’s issues, in the divorce context, the relevant information that parties typically must obtain include inventories of assets and debts and valuations of them, post-divorce budget projections, and financial and legal information.  It’s no small feat to obtain all of these items.

Most individuals will contact an attorney first.  Consulting an attorney is a wise move, but how, when and why you consult one can make a significant impact on  the bottom line.  You can retain an attorney to represent you in litigation (e.g., big retainer), to handle a defined project (e.g., review the settlement agreement your spouse’s attorney sent over), or to give you legal advice (e.g., the house is titled in his name, does that mean it is his?).   Family lawyers do not come cheap; use them wisely.

Some individuals will get organized.  They run credit reports to get an idea of the debts (all those pesky credit cards), they summarize financial account information with statements into three ring binders, they check Kelly Blue Book for the cars’ values, prepare budgets, price-shop for health insurance, obtain valuation statements of pensions from HR, etc.  Getting organized can be taxing (oh, and they get tax returns).  In the midst of emotional overwhelm, gathering enough steam to get organized can be difficult.

For many families, private divorce mediation is part of their process to get organized on certain issues because they identify “what needs to be done” before they can make a specific decision.  At mediation, it’s not unusual for HR to be called to get COBRA costs, for some pricing on day-care centers to be obtained, or to pull up the online banking records.  So, perfect preparation is not always necessary before divorce mediation occurs, but it is helpful.  On the other hand, some couples will not schedule private divorce mediation until they have greater certainty about the assets and debts at issue.  Therefore, some divorcing couples need the power of the court system to obtain sufficient information to even broach mediation or settlement negotiations:  one spouse will not tender tax returns of the business, spouses are at odds over whether there is or isn’t a retirement fund, one spouse believes the other has been siphoning off money to someone to hold for them until after the divorce concludes, etc.

Many families live paycheck to paycheck.  The prospect of off-shore accounts, hidden trust funds, and more is unlikely.  More likely may be the undisclosed credit card or title loan.  As such, many couples readily have the information they need to discuss the issues of divorce.  If they do, then the appropriateness of private divorce mediation may simply turn on whether they are emotionally ready (see Acceptance above) to do so.

One Mediation is located in Atlanta, Georgia and provides a professional panel of divorce mediators, seminars, and programs for families facing separation and divorce.  For more information, call 404-720-0599 or email contact@onemediation.com to schedule a time for a private divorce mediation or to extend an invitation to mediate to your spouse.

 

2013 Divorce Hot Shot Series (Short Presentations for Real People)

 2013 Divorce Hot Shot Calendar

Registration at www.visionsanew.org ($25 per session, Presenters & Location Addresses Online)

January

Tues., January 8th (Perimeter, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

 Tues., January 15th (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Tues., January 22nd (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“How Child Support Works”

Tues., January 29th (Perimeter, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Options & Avenues”

 

February

Saturday, February 2nd (Buckhead 10 a.m.-Noon)

“Children Weathering the Storm”

Tues., February 5th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Thurs., February 21st (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

 

March/April

Tues., March 5th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Lies & Litigation”

Thurs. March 21st (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Thurs., April 25th (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“What if Someone Dates During Divorce?”

May

Tues., May 7, 2013 (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Tues., May 21, 2013 (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“5 Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce”

June

Tues., June 11, 2013 (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“When the Pie Exceeds A Million Bucks”

Tues., June 25, 2013 (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“5 Common Parenting Mistakes in Divorce”

August

Wed., August 21st  (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“5 Common Legal Mistakes”

Tues., August 27th  (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

 “Divorce Orientation”

Wed., August 28th  (Perimeter, 6:45-8:30 p.m.)

“Finding the Money & Honey”

September

Tues., September 10th  (Buckhead 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

“Divorce Orientation”

Sat., September 21st  (Buckhead 10 – Noon)

“Children Weathering the Storm”

 

 

Does a Divorce Mediator Always Recommend Mediation?

Does a Mediator Always Recommend Mediation?

Andy Flink and JoAnne Donner CDFA

            As mediators, we are frequently asked about how a mediation session works.  By the time we finish explaining the process, everyone has the same response…..that it’s a terrific alternative to litigation and when two people are embroiled in conflict it’s their best option.  But is mediation always a good idea?  Do we always recommend mediation to parties in dispute?  You might be surprised to know that every so often, deciding to mediate two willing parties in a squabble turns out to be a bad idea.

If both sides are openly willing to mediate, why would there be a situation that, after anywhere from one hour to ten hours, everyone wonders why we bothered to meet in the first place?  Here are a dozen reasons why mediation can be unproductive and when it may have been best not to meet at all:

  1. Missing Information.  Rarely is a case resolved in mediation where there is a lack of discovery or incomplete, unverified financial information. There is already mistrust in the room; this simply adds to it.
  2. Lack of respect.  Knowing how to “act” in a mediation session is important.  We tell mediation coaching clients to pause and consider everything the other side is asking for and offering.  If for no other reason than to appear that you are being respectful and considerate of their position, whether or not you really are.  Parties in mediation have a tendency to “show their hand” through body language, tipping off the other side that respect is merely a song by Aretha Franklin.
  3. Unrealistic expectations. “I get everything and you get nothing.”  Once we mediated a case where the plaintiff demanded a 90/10 split as equitable division because “He was the one who worked all the time.”  This kind of extreme thinking is not unusual but can send negotiations into the no-settlement zone.
  4. Bad timing. Fortunately, courts send almost every case through the mediation process.  Unfortunately, it might be before the disputing parties have completed discovery or are emotionally ready to consider settlement.
  5. It’s a fishing expedition.  The other side shows up for the sole purpose of learning everything they can about what the other side’s position is and why.  They have no intention of settling…and sometime during the day you figure this out.
  6. Subject-matter expertise. When a divorce mediator is asked to do landlord/tenant  mediation or a personal injury lawyer represents a client in divorce mediation, it may not work very well.  Typically, there is no substitute for experience and expertise in a specialized niche.
  7. A missing party.  Virtual communication technology is impressive, but when one party is 3,000 miles away in Seattle and the mediation session is in Atlanta, phone or Skype doesn’t always reveal subtle cognitive or behavioral clues.  It may be difficult to know what the long-distance party is really thinking, since much of what mediators look for are not only verbal cues, but physical ones as well.
  8. Schedule conflicts.  You’re seven hours into a mediation working towards a resolution and suddenly one of the parties declares they have a prior commitment.  While they had plenty of opportunity to reveal this information earlier in the day they chose not to, sending the mediation into a tailspin.
  9. Lack of motivation.  A party prefers to maintain the status quo and strongly resists settlement.  Sometimes this occurs where leverage is solely on one side of the table, or where one party has “everything to gain” and “nothing to lose” by keeping financial and emotional circumstances the way they are for as long as possible.
  10. Polarity or a desire for vengeance.  Rarely do couples in divorce mediation get to divorce at the same time for the same reasons.  One party may feel a need for the other party to “pay dearly,” whether or not this serves their best interests.  When vengeance is a prime motivator, the ability to be fair and reasonable is dramatically compromised.
  11. Inflexibility.  Regardless of the truth, one party sees the facts in a completely different way than the other.  If one party’s parents funded the purchase of the marital home, they may insist that they are entitled to 100% of that asset with no consideration paid to the facts, the law, or equitable division guidelines.  Parties’ perceptions become their reality and, frequently, no matter what the facts are they refuse to alter their position.
  12. History of high-conflict.  Relationships that have been controlled by antagonism,   intimidation, emotional abuse, or domestic violence, can make mediation the wrong       choice.  While mediators are trained to effectively address power imbalances, when one party’s emotional or cognitive competencies are significantly impaired due to past abuse,  a suitable and durable outcome is unlikely.

For mediation to work, it takes a desire for a timely, cost-effective resolution that will keep the dispute out of court.  Key motivators are a willingness to cooperate and to focus on a fair result for both sides.   For couples who will play by those rules, and who want what’s best for the children and the future of the re-defined family, mediation can be the right way to navigate the pitfalls and possibilities of divorce resolution.

Options for Amicable Divorces – Seminar in Atlanta

Whether you like it or not, divorce is in your future.  So far, you and your soon-to-be-ex have been working things out pretty well, all things considered.  Maybe one of you has met with an attorney.  Maybe one of you has met with a CPA.  Maybe neither of you has met with any professional.  But, you are committed…at least for now…to working things out amicably.

Can it be done?  An “amicable divorce”?

The answer is:  Maybe.   To find out whether your divorce will fall on the “contested” or “uncontested” side of the fence, come to this information-packed seminar to learn about options, resources, and what kinds of professionals can help you  make informed decisions that may best lead you to an amicable divorce.

Seminar is $20 per individual and $30 for a couple.  Register by calling 404-720-0599.   The seminar will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 and again on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at The Fryer Law Building (intersection of Lenox Road and Buford Highway), 70 Lenox Pointe, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30324.  For more information or other questions, feel free to email at contact@onemediation.com .

Is Divorce Mediation for You?

Mediation is a process.  It is a journey.  It is not a journey that is for everyone…until they are ready.

A recent blog hits on three “red flags” that divorce mediation may not be a process that is right for you.   Sometimes mediation is a process that is right for couples once the individuals “are ripe” for resolution.   What does that mean?   Parties that succeed in mediation often have these characteristics, among others:

  • A desire to get out of the current state of affairs and move forward to something that is more certain.
  • A firm awareness that reconciling the marriage will not occur.
  • A strong interest in having some control over the outcome rather than awaiting a trial court’s decision, which may not be favorable or that does not best fit your family’s needs, culture, etc.
  • A sufficient measure of confidence in what the legal landscape of divorce entails for their particular case.
  • Strong preparation in budgeting, inventorying assets and debts, and making decisions about the children that are for the children (vs. the wants, needs, desires of the parent).
  • A willingness to accept change.

In the context of divorce, not every party in the marriage attains these qualities at the same time (or ever).  However, when both parties reach a critical point of acceptance, mediation indeed may be a process that serves them well.

Divorce & Parenting

Most parents facing divorce are in uncharted territory on how to co-parent well with their soon-to-be-ex.  With having to become an instant expert in this kind of parenting, many parents will seek out advice and counsel from parenting coaches, parent coordinators, and child therapists.  It only makes sense to get a tutor on such an important matter.

Many divorce coaches and consultants blog about the typical challenges that face individuals.  One recent blogging coach hit on a quick and potent list of co-parenting tips that are worth repeating.  Click here for more… 

Fall 2012 Divorce Seminars For “Real People” In Metro-Atlanta

Divorce is a process that many only face once in a lifetime.  So, individuals facing issues of separation and divorce have a steep learning curve in the midst of an emotional storm that can be paralyzing, as well as stressful, expensive and confusing.  Many attorneys, therapists, and others provide local divorce resources.

A listing of Fall 2012 Divorce Seminars in Atlanta can be found here with links to the relevant entities sponsoring the programs:

  • Saturday, October 20th – Speeddivorcing  (Atlanta). Get divorce information fast from lawyers, therapists, financial experts, real estate & insurance brokers, etc.  Audio info from past attendees.
If you are offering a divorce-related seminar, please let us know at contact@onemediation.com.  The Visions Anew Institute’s entire listing of Hot Shot sessions (through January 2013) can be accessed here.

What Goes On At Divorce Mediations? Sample Agenda Here.

Mediation is a confidential process.  This confidentiality can make mediation seem mysterious, inaccessible, and even scary when it involves divorce.  Save family lawyers and divorce mediators, most individuals facing divorce are uncertain about the divorce process that occurs in open court.

The unknown is often feared.  Thus, the secrecy of mediation, generally viewed as a positive attribute, can be its own worst enemy particularly in the divorce context.   Dispelling some of the mystery, a sample agenda for a divorce mediation can be accessed here.

To learn more about divorce mediation, there are mediation coaches and frequent seminars offered by One Mediation.  Call 404-720-0599 to register for upcoming seminars or to schedule an appointment with a mediation coach.

Minimizing Legal Costs? An Expert’s Tips

This article gives fourteen tips from an experienced divorce attorney on simple things that clients can do to minimize legal expenses in divorce.  Simple.  Practical.