Saturday, July 31, 2010

Group Mediation

I have always wanted to experiment with group mediation but never have had an opportunity. There are two forms of group mediation.

An article on the internet at says, “Traditional group mediation is a voluntary process in which trained mediators assist members of a work group in an open and confidential forum to: (1) identify and discuss the issues that are affecting the group; (2) explore alternatives that may resolve the issues; and (3) reach agreement on the alternatives that would best resolve the issues. The mediators meet with the work group, explain the process and answer questions, interview each group member privately to obtain his or her perspective of the situation, identify and list issues from the information shared during the interviews and present the list to the group for approval; the group may add or delete issues, ask the group to prioritize the issues and decide the order of discussion by the group, facilitate the discussion of the issues, establish with the group a schedule of two or three meetings, 3-4 hours each, to discuss the issues, help the parties define the issues involved
• encourage and assist the parties to have open and honest communication
• do not make judgments on who is right or wrong
• do not make decisions or impose solutions

The parties:
• are voluntary participants who want to discuss and resolve the issues
• must be willing to talk openly and honestly about their concerns and issues
• must be willing to generate alternatives to resolve the issues”

I would like to experiment with a different type of group divorce mediation. It would be more like group therapy. I would meet with a few divorcing couples and try to mediate all the divorces at once. It would save the couples money. I am not sure if it would make problem solving easier or harder. Probably both. So far it has the logistics or getting couples and have them meet has prevented me from trying. Perhaps, one day it will all come together.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(183) 7/31/10

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Conflict can be Productive By: Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW

Conflict is an unavoidable aspect of our lives. Conflict normally has a negative connotation; most people try to avoid conflict, some at a high cost to self. From a young age children learn ways to cope and deal with conflict. I propose that conflict, when dealt with in a productive, healthy manner, can be a growth experience. Through conflict we can gain insight into ourselves, learn new ways to cope and feel proud of how we handled a situation.

Most people who divorce experience conflict at various stages of the process of divorce. An ex-partner who begins dating and bringing the children around his or her new paramour can be a source of conflict. Money is often a source of conflict as is rules and guidelines for raising the children.

Some people experience conflict and view it as a win/lose situation. When this occurs communication is doomed to fail. One can feel “wronged” and want to prove his or her point. Compromise cannot occur in such an environment. Conflict can also become addictive with one or both of the individuals seeking to remain connected, if only through conflict. It is unhealthy when an individual begins to thrive on conflict and actively seeks it out.

There are steps we can all take to deal with conflict in a healthy, productive way. One of the first steps is to humanize the opponent. Another suggestion is to avoid all or nothing thinking. When we begin to characterize another person’s behavior as “he is always...” or “she always...” it should cue us that we need to reassess our view of the situation. It is also essential to try to see the “flip side of the coin”, see alternative ways to view the situation. Take the conflict out of the win/lose context. Don’t assume that you know what is motivating the other person. The only way you can know this for sure is to ask.

In the end each of us has to decide how to deal with conflict. The most important thing to remember is that you need to respect yourself after the conflict has passed and this is achieved through your actions.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mediation Styles

People often just think mediation but there actually are different types of mediation styles. The three basic types of mediation are facilitative, tranformative, and evaluative. In jest a colleague recently suggested a fourth type – accusatory! I will discuss a potential fourth type, group mediation, in a future blog. All types of mediation require the mediator to be neutral, the process to be confidential, and self determination for the parties. The role of the mediator is different in each type.

Facilitative mediation is based on the belief that, with neutral assistance, people can work through and resolve their own conflicts. In a facilitative mediation, the mediator will take an active role in controlling the "process." Process means things like setting the ground rules for how the problem will be solved. The mediator asks questions to identify the interests of the parties and the real issues in the disagreement. The mediator helps the parties explore solutions that benefit both parties (sometimes called "win/win" solutions). In a facilitative mediation, the mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the parties' cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

Evaluative mediation is based on the belief that mediators with expertise in the issues in conflict can help the parties to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal or other positions and to work to achieve settlements. In evaluative mediation, the mediator controls the process and suggests solutions for resolving the conflict. The focus of an evaluative mediation is primarily upon settlement. The mediators will make their best efforts to get the parties to compromise, if necessary, to achieve a result. This is the type of mediation most attorneys and former judges use. It is like a court required status conference or a meeting with a special master. I believe this is what Ken Feinberg does. It often becomes what is called power or muscle mediation and a settlement is imposed.

Transformative mediation is based on the belief that conflict tends to make parties feel weak and self-absorbed. Transformatative mediators try to change the nature of the parties' conflict interaction by helping them appreciate each others viewpoints and strengthening their ability to handle conflict in a productive manner. The mediator will intervene in the conversation between the parties in order to call attention to moments of recognition and empowerment. Ground rules for the mediation are set only if the parties set them. The mediator does not direct the parties to topics or issues. Instead, the mediator follows the parties’ conversation and assist them to talk about what they think is important. The transformative mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of the parties’ cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.”
Some mediators prefer to use one approach exclusively in their mediation sessions. Many mediators can, and do, use many approaches. I often start with facilitative but slip into evaluative when I hit an impasse. I probably am always doing a little transformative mediation. Clients don’t usually do it but it is a good idea to ask your mediator which style he or she uses.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(182) 7/24/10

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Arizona Child Support Guidelines

There was a very good article about Arizona’s new Child Support Guidelines in the June 10, 2010 issue of the DesertLeaf by Annie Rolfe. See entire article at She says, that “The Arizona Child Support Guidelines were up for review in 2009. At the outset of the review, the Guidelines Review Committee (GRC) recognized that the existing model, known as the Income Shares model, failed to adequately address situations in which one parent earned significantly more than the other. As such, the GRC sought to revamp the system. The GRC’s proposal is called the Child-Outcome Based Support model, or COBS. Under the new proposal, child support for parents with equal or near equal incomes will not dramatically change and, in lower-income cases, may be slightly reduced. The COBS model is designed to have the greatest effect in cases of unequal incomes. For example, when the custodial parent earns $2,000 per month, the non-custodial parent earns $4,000 per month, and there is one child, the non-custodial parent’s child support may increase by $161 per month.” There are not automatic modifications so divorced couples may want to review their child support orders. This can easily be done with mediation.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(181) 7/17/10

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3rd Party Access is now available!

3rd Party Access is now available at All About The Children. Come to and have your mediator, lawyer, or other professional register for an account to be able to see what is going on. Once you grant them access you no longer have to forward those emails anywhere for review. It's free and it's easy. Once registered the professional can view all of his/her clients in the click of a button. Come check it out!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dementia and Divorce

I have recently thought about divorce and dementia. Liz Pulliam Weston has written an interesting article for MSN discussing it. See the entire article at She says, “The population of divorced people over 65 has exploded in the past 15 years, and elder-law attorneys suspect money is at least partly to blame. The idea that money might be a factor in divorce isn't news. But instead of fighting over their money, these attorneys say, older people who divorce might be trying to preserve it. Christine Crawford of Aurora, Ohio, started divorce proceedings after her husband's care for dementia consumed more than $100,000 of their savings. Crawford said she didn't want to divorce her husband, with whom she'd raised three children, but it was the only way to preserve what was left of their life savings.” The couple divorces and puts all their assets in the well person’s name and the sick spouse can then qualify for Medicaid benefits.
I have not seen any divorces caused by dementia. An internet search shows some but most are second marriages or shorter marriages. Couples who are married longer seem to be more willing to care for a sick spouse. This is encouraging.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(180) 7/10/10

Friday, July 09, 2010

Facebook - Friend or Foe?

As a Divorce lawyer, I have had many clients bring me evidence of a spouse's or opposing party's bad or contradictory behavior obtained from a posting on Facebook. Over the past several months I have come across many cases where a party will post things on Facebook that contradicts their statement, complaints or other documents filed in a Divorce or Custody case. This recent article highlights potential pitfalls of posting Facebook when going through a legal matter in Family Court? I would love to get your input as to any similar experience you may have had or whether you think this type of information should be allowed? Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Is the cost of Divorce too High?

Who do you think is responsible for the high costs associated with a divorce or custody hearing? Should attorneys offer alternative fee arrangements to hourly billing?

Dates for Better Parenting Better Divorce - 2010

  • Do you have serious conflicts with your co-parent? Research has shown that children of divorce don't have to be damaged for life if their parents have cooperative and collaborative relationships.  
  • Respectful co-parenting can provide children their best chance of living normal lives after separation and divorce.  
  • All of our facilitators are experienced mental health professionals with years of total experience working with families. They have extensive training in conflict and resolution and mediation (l-r: Judy Colich, Vi Ballard, Paula Van Doren and David Kuroda).   
  • Dates and times of ClassesSeries 5: Mondays, July 19, 26, August 2, 9, 15, 23, 2010  Series 6: Thursdays,September 16, 23, 30, October 7, 21, 28, 2010. Series 7: Mondays, November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, December 6, 2010. 
  • Time and Location: 5:30 - 7:30 pm, 21535 Hawthorne Blvd. Suite 585, Torrance CA 90503. For parking area, enter from Carson or Del Amo Circle and park under building  
  • Cost: $360 for the 6-sessions. Credit cards accepted, $370.  For information and registration: Call 310-373-7994 or 310-245-6814 Both parents expected to attend the same group  This workshop is recognized by the L.A. Superior Court/Family Court Services as a local alternative to attending "Parents Without Conflict" in Los Angeles. Labels: Children, Divorce, Parenting, Court, Co-parenting

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Choosing The Right Mediator Or Collaborative Attorney

Finding the right peacemaker to help bridge the differences between you and the other party is crucial to the successful resolution of your case. Many attorneys advertise as mediators and/or collaborative attorneys. The reality is, however, that few have the necessary training, if any, and, often, still litigate as their primary practice. As attorneys, we are trained to fight. Up until recently, this was the role of the attorney: the gladiator, if you will. With the increase in resolution awareness and studies showing the short and long term benefits of early peacemaking, many litigators have grown hungry and jumped on the peacemaking bandwagon. So how do you find the true peacemaker? Here are a few tips:

1. Reputation: Ask around. Most professionals, whether they are financials, therapists, or other attorneys, know who are the true peacemakers and who are the litigators at heart.

2. Connection: If you feel good about your peacemaker at your initial orientation, that’s a good sign that this is someone you can work with. Remember your goals (resolve peacefully, protect the children, etc). Do you feel that this person can help you reach those goals? Or is this person using hostile language such as “Your ex is going to pay through the nose”. Or “you are entitled to...” Trust your gut.

3. Practice focus: Ask how much of the peacemaker’s practice is dedicated to mediation, collaboration, and litigation. The reality is that some litigators would prefer to be full-time peacemakers but can’t afford to do so... yet. This, in and of itself is not an indication of the professional’s ability or dedication in peacemaking, but it can be a clue as to where there focus lies. If you litigate 95% of the time, it’s very difficult to shift to peacemaker for the other 5%. We call this the “paradigm shift”. It’s very difficult to do when the fight is in your blood.

4. Training: It’s okay to ask “where were you trained”, “how much training have you had”, “when was your last training”. There are constantly advancements in peacemaking techniques and changes in the law. A peacemaker who went to one basic training two years ago, may not be the best fit for your resolution goals.

5. Resources: Does your peacemaker have a library of books dealing with resolution in parenting plans, spousal support, step-parenting, etc? What about recommendations for other professionals for divorce preparation and post-divorce life? A peacemaker without such resources will likely not have the ability to help you achieve your goals.

6. Experience: Look for a peacemaker with experience in your type of situation. You wouldn’t want a criminal defense attorney working on your divorce any more than you would want a dermatologist handling your open-heart surgery. Nor would you want your cousin who just past his bar exam in Florida handling your divorce case in California. Many attorneys offer mentoring, where a new attorney shadow’s an experienced one. That is fine, so long as you approve of the arrangement in your case. But your case shouldn’t be the newbies’ practice run.

7. Involvement in the peacemaking community: The peacemaking community is relatively small compared to the litigation community. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with local, national, and international peacemaking organizations. Such involvement shows a commitment beyond just a marketing tool.

8. Publication: A peacemaker who has published books, articles, lectures, or has an ongoing blog is someone who is up to date on peacemaking and has something to say about it.

9. Peacemaking web-sites: Sites like,,, and others provide referral lists. In order to be on these lists, the professional must have completed a minimum number of hours of training in mediation/collaboration, and must meet certain liability and experience requirements. It’s not a sure thing, but it’s a start.

10. It’s listed above, but it’s so important, I’m mentioning it twice: trust your gut. If you feel comfortable with the professional, it’s probably the right fit. Remember to take in all factors, but this is probably the most important one. If you don’t feel intimidated by this person, if you feel comfortable talking to him/her, odds are the other party will feel that way as well. In peacemaking, you both need to be comfortable.

Feel free to share your tips and how you found your peacemaker.

Breaking Old Habits Can Create A Light In The Horizon

It is always wonderful to see a challenging case turn “text-book” mediation when the proper team and resources are used. I recently had a divorcing couple that were facing incredible challenges: financial, emotional, and, if that wasn’t enough, trying to meet the needs of their special needs child. Our first session went as most do: they were uncertain as to the benefits of mediation, they were treating, and reacting to, each other as they always had done, and they were very positional. This is normal. I started as always, confirming both party’s commitment to try to resolve. We set out each party’s goals, discussed the general rules of communication, and started focusing on options for resolution for each goal.

Also normal for these cases, we spent most of the time talking about non-issues (over an hour talking about who would take the vacuum and how the fair market value would be calculated). Issues such as these are non-issues because the true issue is “I’m angry and she’s still trying to control me” or “I’m hurt and he wants to impose rules?” Folks, this is where a coach would usually step in and help both parties see that the conversation they are having is masking the true issue and, therefore, the true issue is not being discussed or resolved. I brought this to their attention and they agreed to set another session which would include the coach. Aside from agreeing to participate in mediation in the first place, this was probably the next best decision they could have made in their divorce.

In our next joint session, with the coach present, we were able to resolve probably two of the most challenging items in a divorce: the parenting plan and child support. And that, in three hours! They were like a completely different couple from the couple I met at the first session. They were not perfect (no one expected that in so short a time) and would fall back into their old habits, which they have perfected over the many years of their union. But, with our help (mine and my co-mediator coach), we were able to stop them, help them recognize the old habit into which they had fallen, and they would modify the offensive conduct. Here’s how it worked: Spouse A would start with “I want you to...” or “You have to...” I would interrupt, apologize for the interruption, and let Spouse A know that what I am hearing is Spouse A talking at Spouse B rather than engaging Spouse B in a discussion. With what Spouse A had learned from the coach, Spouse A then said “Let me re-phrase.” Both spouses did this so beautifully! They really heard and were able to adopt the communication techniques they had learned, in such a short period of time.

Coaches are such an important part of a peaceful resolution in any conflict. The way you phrase your concerns, the tone you use, and the control you exercise can make or break any negotiation. And it is very true - old habits are very hard to break. Don’t beat yourself up because your spouse keeps getting to you - s/he knows your “hot buttons” better than anyone. You cannot control what that person does. Equally true, you CAN control how you respond.

Whether you are a professional or someone currently going through mediation, I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have had similar experiences.

Please note that any information I share in these blogs are examples from multiple cases and the facts have all been changed to protect confidential and privileged information.

The Efficiency of Communication in Legal Matters

My practice is now 100% dedicated to out-of-court solutions for those in conflict. But it wasn't always that way. And every now and then, I get an attorney on the other side who says he wants to resolve, but then does silly things like file a motion in court without even a discussion. Honestly, how hard is it to call the other attorney and try to resolve before filing a motion with the court? Let’s think about the economic efficiency of this.

To file a motion, you have to interview the client on the issues. Maybe an hour’s worth of discussion. Let’s assume the attorney is billing at $350/hour. Then the attorney has to prepare the judicial counsel forms, memorandum of points and authorities (the law that supports the requests being made), the client’s required financial disclosures and declaration in support of his/her motion, and, possibly, a declaration by the attorney (if the attorney has anything of relevance to add). With all of this, let’s assume, conservatively, three hours total to prepare the motion. 3 x $350 = $1,050 + 1 hour prep time = 1,400.

Once the motion is served on the other attorney, that attorney now has to respond and make requests on behalf of his/her client as well. Let’s assume another hour for client interview and, conservatively, another 3 hours for preparation. That’s another $1,400. That’s $2,800 so far, and no one has gone to court yet.

The way the financial crisis has affected the family courts, those hearings that use to be set out 30 days, are now being set out 45+ days. Let’s assume that the initial attorney doesn’t like that it will take 45 days before the motion will be heard so s/he files an ex-parte motion (have the issue treated as an emergency to get immediate orders - within 1 to 2 days - until the motion can be heard). That only takes about 15 minutes, at $350/hour that’s $105 (most attorneys bill on the 10th of an hour so every 6 minutes is .1, 15 minutes is .3). If the ex-parte is scheduled (and it may be rejected unless the court deems the request truly an emergency - very few situations actually qualify), both attorneys have to appear, which is a 1-4 hour ordeal in court. So that would be $700-$2800 total for the two attorneys. And, don’t forget, there’s the hearing after that since the ex-parte orders are only until the full matter on that issue can be heard.

Assuming no ex-parte, both attorneys and their clients will show up to the hearing where theirs will be one of approximately 30 cases on calendar that day. They could spend the entire day in court waiting for the hearing, or get ordered back if the judge does not have time to hear the matter. That’s 8 hours at 350 for each attorney = $5,600. Plus the prep work done earlier: $8,400 (assuming no ex-parte), for one motion. If there was an ex-parte, add another $350-$2,400 to that figure. And this is a conservative figure. Financial disclosures often take 3 hours or more in and of themselves.

Now, let’s compare how it would look if the attorney would have called the other attorney to discuss the issue first. One 5 minute phone call to schedule the meeting and then a one hour conference to see if there’s a way to resolve = $385 per attorney = $770 total. Compare that to the $8,400+, it seems like a no-brainer, economically. And think of the potential for resolution!

Even if you don’t resolve, doesn’t it make more sense to try? Especially if you or your attorney haven’t even spoken to the other attorney? Why assume hostility and combativeness? To my simple mind, it seems well worth the effort to at least see if there is a chance at resolution. Especially if you learn or know that the other attorney is a peacemaker and has, in fact, already invited you to discuss the items in need of resolution.

As professionals, we all strive to do what we feel is in our client’s best interests. I just don’t think charging into battle without even an effort at negotiations does that. There is, of course, always an exception, like when personal safety is the concern. But that should be the exception, not the norm for ALL issues.

As a follow up to this post: the issue was resolved about 1 week before the hearing date and the moving attorney refused to take the matter off calendar. As a result, both parties had to appear with their attorneys and now the non-moving party is asking for attorney's fees. They have another court hearing scheduled for that motion. Absolute madness!

Solutions for Divorcing Parents in High Conflict - Parallel Parenting

I wanted to share with everyone a very impressive training I recently took on High Conflict Divorce. It was a training that a couple of my colleagues had described as "life changing" and "fills in the gaps left by other trainings". Please note, that this is not a comparison to other trainings in mediation, collaboration, or other high conflict programs. Every training that I have attended has expanded my knowledge and given me many more tools to use in my divorce cases. Brook Olson's "High Conflict Divorce Training", was truly a unique experience for me, and something everyone should be aware of and should consider attending.

Brook Olson is a coach who, himself, went through a high conflict divorce. It was during that experience that he met, and later worked with, a high conflict professional who showed him why his was a high conflict matter and how to get through it and move on with his life. While he learned much from this individual, there were many questions left unanswered and many situations unaddressed. Thus began Brook's journey into High Conflict Divorce solutions. Today, Brook teaches his course to high conflict parents in San Diego. His 12 week program for high conflict parents has been approved by the San Diego Courts, who order such litigants to attend. Brook also offers the 4 day program that I attended for professionals who also wish to teach the 12 week program in their areas. Orange county recently adopted the program and will soon be referring high conflict parents. Although neither LA, Riverside, or San Bernardino currently offer such classes (not sure about Ventura), I took this course to better understand my clients and to give them the tools they need to stop the battle, focus on the children, and move on as positive role models, regardless of the other parent's conduct. My hope is that, in the not to distant future, our local courts will take advantage of the opportunities offered by these classes and start directing parents towards them. I think the result will be fewer parents returning to court due to mis-steps by the other parent.

So down to the program itself. I have to say, the first day, for me, was scary. And, truth be told, this was one of the warnings we were given at the beginning. Brook shared with me that I have the distinction of being the first attorney to take the training. Divorce coaches, therapists, social workers, and financial professionals working in divorce or with divorcing couples have been the typical attendees. After taking this course, I have to say that as attorneys, we are seriously missing out.

We started the program in a way similar to how Brook teaches the program to divorcing parents - why are you here? What experiences in your life have brought you to divorce cases. Fairly simple questions, or so it seems. Brook has an ability to help you reveal truths about yourself that, for many of us, we were not even aware of. For example, I know, that in my own life, conflict makes me very uncomfortable. I employ mediation and collaborative techniques when the situation calls for it, but, truth be told, I would prefer to avoid the conflict. Not surprising; this probably describes most people. What was surprising to me was the revelation that I voluntarily enter the conflicts of others because I feel that I have the ability to save people. I struggle with this. I know that I have to allow my clients to make their own decisions and control their own destinies. And it's not just with my clients; I do this with my friends and my family as well. This was something I was aware of in my practice, but I disguised it as me trying to suppress my "inner-litigator"; allowing my clients to control the outcome. When, in reality, I have a savior complex (I must have been a superhero in another life).

What was "scary" about day one is that you are put in a position of facing your own inner truths, much as the divorcing parent must do in these classes. And you are put in this position in front of others, going through the same experience, much as the divorcing parent must do in these classes. In short, you, the professional, experience the class much as the parent will. Through a series of exercises, you bring up past or current conflicts and are, literally, placed in the position of the person with whom you were/are in conflict with. This goes well beyond role reversals. It gave me a very different perspective of the person with whom I had had a conflict.

Every exercise begins with refocusing - first on breathing, then on your immediate senses, both externally and internally, then on a joyous place/occasion, then on the exercise (which includes noticing the change in your senses and being), and back in reverse order. I came away from that first day realizing there had been an internal shift, in my being, in my thinking, in my emotional state.

The remainder of the training was more technique orientated, always keeping in the foreground the introspective aspects of the exercises. Here, the tools we were given filled all of the "but" questions. In theory, many of our mediation and collaborative techniques have promising outcomes; and, for many, they do work. "But" there is always one or two parents who just can't pull themselves out, no matter what tools and/or resources we offer. For many such parents, this challenge stems from their own childhood traumas that have caused undeveloped or poorly developed cerebral functions, manifesting themselves as bipolar disorder, narcissism, borderline personality disorder, etc. This course teaches you, the professional and/or the parent, to identify the varying degrees and types of personality disorders that most often are at play within these individuals, and how these come into play in a parenting/divorce dispute. This is where many of my colleagues will struggle - the idea that not all parents CAN co-parent, nor should they try.

This opened the discussion for the overall theme of the course: Parallel Parenting. Parallel Parenting is parenting that is not only child focused, but exclusive of the other parent. There is no direct communication between the parents. Custodial time is carried out as if the other parent no longer existed. The "what if she takes me to court because my kid came home with a broken arm" questions are addressed in practical terms - what if she did? Did you break your child's arm? If not, what will happen? If you did, that's pretty bad. What do you think the court will do? Maybe you should enroll yourself in anger management before the court orders it. And so on. Co-parenting is, and always should be, the ultimate goal. Knowing that there are some who physically lack that ability, and having the tools to show that person how to productively parent on their own, will serve the greater, overall interests of the children.

Folks, this class really is about being the best parent you can be, regardless of the divorce and regardless of the other parent, and giving high conflict parents the tools to do just that. It's about learning to be rather than learning to respond. And while there are some who cannot make this shift, helping even just one parent really is a success when you know that that is one more child who will not be hauled away by the police when the other parent refuses to allow the visitation.

Brook's High Conflict Divorce training is a practical side of divorce resolution training. For my collaborative and mediation colleagues, and for family court judges, this training will challenge your belief that every parent can and should co-parent. It is a very different approach for a population that was previously dismissed as "some cases just have to be litigated". Too many cases fall into that category needlessly. With budget cuts and the elimination of parenting without conflict classes, we need more professionals equipped to handle these situations and we need more judicial officers willing to explore these avenues and order such couples to attend these courses. These are not personality types that will, necessarily, look for these classes on their own. They must either be ordered or have the option of voluntarily attending in exchange for some benefit in court.

If you would like more information, or would like to attend a local High Conflict Divorce training, e-mail me directly. We have set up a wait list for the next training. Please note that I personally do not train the trainers nor do I receive any compensation for sharing this information. As I have done in the past, through various channels, I like to share my training experiences whenever possible.

Infidelity - Frustration in Divorce Court

I was asked a while ago “how do I document the adultery so I can use it in the divorce?”. Wow! This is someone who is clearly very angry. My first thought was "how?" How do you expect to use this information in divorce court? This information is not “legally relevant” and will not be considered by the courts... at all. My next thought was “why?” What is it that this person expects to achieve by presenting this information? Does he think that the judge will agree that he has been wronged and give him all the assets and the other person all the debts? And why would you want to do this to yourself? Think of the effect it will have to have such betrayal filmed, recorded, and documented for all the world to see. Why would you memorialize such a memory for yourself even? And what effect will it have on your children? Is it more important to show what a terrible person your spouse is, or to maintain the emotional and psychological well-being of your children?

Taking information and “proof” of your spouse’s adultery to court, makes that information public record and will increase your anger, hurt, and frustration, since the judge will completely reject the information. You will feel the victim because you continue to “play that role”. Acting (or reacting) because of what your spouse did or does, puts your spouse in control of you. Infidelity is wrong, it’s hurtful, and it’s a big sign that there are problems in the marriage. While your spouse’s conduct may justify your hurt and anger, it does not justify further bad conduct by you. Especially when that behavior affects the children. You can’t control what your spouse does, but you can control your actions to be the person and parent you want to be. You owe it to yourself and to your children.

Wedding Crashers and Mediation

Not sure why I have not blogged on this before. I have mentioned the movie Wedding Crasher in a blogs about Obama and McCain and in the list of divorce movies but I have never discussed separately. You can see the clip of the initial mediation scene in the movie on YouTube at The scene is one of the few of a mediation session in a movie and is very funny but not too accurate. I used the clip once in a presentation before the Connecticut Council for Divorce Mediation on humor in divorce and mediation. I did not realize that there were two versions of the movie. One with a little more colorful language. I used the one with more colorful language and some people were caught a off guard. Mediation needs to be popularized more in the media for people to become more aware of it as an alternative. I am not sure if this clip helped but it certainly made the term divorce mediation more known. I don't usually do mediation with the attorneys present and I was not surprised when the attorney said the mediation was a bad idea. The parties were fighting a lot. I usually let parties vent but not go on that long. I liked the intervention the Owen Wilson used to stop the fighting. I love it when the Husband says to the mediators could you not just talk any more. I wonder if any of my clients have ever felt that way.
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