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Direnfeld: Settling Parenting Disputes Outside Court

Do you ever wonder how your divorce is affecting your children?  Do you sometimes think about how conflict may be affecting your own mental health, and your ability to effectively parent, or co-parent?

Gary Direnfeld is an internationally known social worker, speaker, and parenting expert based out of Ontario.  He has been an expert witness in many high conflict divorce trials, and yet he is a strong believer that the courtroom is a terrible forum for resolving divorce and parenting disputes.  In the following radio interview, Gary discusses why he believes parenting and divorce-related issues should be resolved outside of court:

You can find a partial transcript, slightly edited for clarity, below:

Roughly 80% of folks going through a separation or divorce are going to settle things between themselves.  They may have some 3rd party assistance.  Twenty percent are going to turn to the courts.  Less than 5%, even if turning to the courts, are going to go to trial.  Most matter settle ahead of a trial.  And then there is that small percentage, that 1, 2, or 3% that really tie up the courts’ time.  And I, for whatever reason, find myself heavily involved with those folks.

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High conflict parents turn to the court searching for release only to find that in many, many cases, litigation only exacerbates the problems.  It doesn’t resolve them.  And the reason for that is, in turning to the courts, it is often a race to the bottom.  I will prove my case by making you look worse than me, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of that.  So the other parent reciprocates in kind.  And then the “he said she said” escalates to such a pitch that it is hard to know one from the other.  

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Co-Mediation And Collaborative Mediation

There are many ways to resolve your divorce issues.  The most well-known option is courtroom divorce.  This is where the spouses spend years battling it out, finding ways to undermine one another.  In the end, a judge tells them who gets what property and where the kids sleep at night.  There is also mediation and collaborative divorce, private forms of dispute resolution.  But two less known methods for resolving your divorce are co-mediation and collaborative mediation.

Co-Mediation

Co-mediation is a way for you and your spouse to resolve disputes outside of court with two or more mediators.  Oftentimes, the mediators have different training and skillsets.  In the co-mediation that Family Diplomacy offers, one co-mediator is an attorney by training.  The other is a therapist or accountant by training.  The co-mediators do not provide legal or financial advice, nor do we engage in therapy.  Rather, in a series of face-to-face meetings, we help develop options that meet your legal, financial, and emotional needs.

Collaborative Mediation

In collaborative mediation, you and your spouse each have your own attorneys.  The attorneys can only represent you in private dispute resolution.  Accordingly, the attorneys spend no time, energy, or money on opposition research, preparing for trial, or encouraging you and your spouse to fight.  The collaborative attorneys provide their clients with legal advice so you can make-well informed decisions.  The neutral mediator or co-mediators help facilitate an agreement and keeps the process moving forward.

You and your spouse have the ultimate say in how you want to use your attorneys in collaborative mediation.  The attorneys can be by your side at each mediation meeting.  Alternatively, the attorneys do not attend mediation but instead provide you with advice outside of meetings or only once the mediator(s) draft up an agreement.  Still, another option is for the attorneys to attend some meetings (like ones focused on financial matters), but not other meetings (i.e., parenting plan discussions).

Co-Mediation and Collaborative Mediation

Co-Mediation and Collaborative MediationRachel Moskowitz, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with whom I frequently co-mediate, recently wrote an article for Commentator Magazine.  The article describes a case study in which we had a co-mediation that turned into a collaborative mediation.  You can find an excerpt of the article below.

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Collaborative Mediation

What is Collaborative Mediation?

If you are getting divorced, you want to move forward as peacefully, quickly, and cost-effectively as possible.  And so you should learn about collaborative mediation.

Mediation

Collaborative mediation is a combination of two forms of private dispute resolution: mediation and collaborative divorce.  In mediation, you meet face-to-face with your spouse along with a neutral mediator (or co-mediators).  The mediator does not decide issues for you.  Rather, the mediator is there to facilitate an agreement between you and your spouse.

What is said during mediation is private and confidential.  This means that statements or offers made in mediation cannot be used against you later in court.  This confidentiality is protected by the Florida Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act (Florida Statutes §§ 44.401-44.406).

Though the mediator can help you and your spouse reach an agreement, he or she cannot provide you with legal advice.  The mediator, for example, cannot tell you if you are making a good or bad deal.

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Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

Can I Divorce Without Lawyers?

Do you want to divorce without lawyers?  Are you and your spouse able to sit down together, but you need some help to figure out what you even need to address?  Are you okay going without legal advice, and you just want to get through the divorce as quickly, painlessly, and cost-effectively as possible?

Well, then, co-mediation can help you divorce without lawyers.

Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

In co-mediation, you and your spouse sit down face-to-face with two mediators: one with a legal background and one with a child and family dynamics background.

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Woody Mosten and Peacemaking Practice Trainers

Video: Woody Mosten Addresses Association for Conflict Resolution

Forrest (Woody) Mosten has been on the cutting edge of the law since the 1970s.  He has been a pioneer in the fields of unbundled legal services, mediation, and collaborative practice, and he has also authored the following books on these topics (you can order them here):

  • The Complete Guide to Mediation: The Cutting-Edge Approach to Family Law Practice (2d Edition, ABA, 2015) (with Elizabeth Scully)
  • Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Effectively Helping Divorcing Families Without Going to Court (Jossey-Bass, 2009)
  • The Mediation Career Guide (Jossey-Bass, 2001)
  • Unbundling Legal Services (ABA, 2000)

In 2011, Woody keynoted at the Association of Conflict Resolution.  You can find the video from part of the speech below:

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Video: Mediators Beyond Borders at United Nations

Mediation is not just for divorce.  It is a form of dispute resolution that is being used to help prevent and mitigate disputes and issues internationally, such as Colombia peacemaking initiatives and efforts to address climate change.

In the video below the jump, Tampa mediator and past president of Mediators Beyond Borders Lynn Cole, Esq., addresses the United Nations about the use of mediation internationally.  This address took place in May 2012.

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Cordover Intern Trainer at Mosten 40-Hour Mediation Training

Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Adam B. Cordover served as an Intern Trainer for Forrest (Woody) Mosten’s 40-Hour Family Law Mediation Training.  The training took place September 13-17, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.

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Woody Mosten has been on the cutting edge of the law for over four decades as a leading figure in legal clinics, unbundled legal services, mediation, and collaborative law.  He literally wrote the book on these subjects, as he is the author or co-author of seminal works in the field, including the Mediation Career Guide, Collaborative Divorce Handbook, the Complete Guide to Mediation, and Unbundling Legal Services.

Further, Woody Mosten and Adam B. Cordover have been tasked by the American Bar Association to write a book on Building A Successful Collaborative Law Practice, which is expected to be published in early 2017.

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What Is The Least Expensive Way To Divorce In Tampa Bay?

You have probably heard of divorce horror stories where couples have suffered for years entrenched in court battles and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.  Fortunately, this is more the exception  than the rule, but still, divorce usually is not cheap.  It is a process, and there are raw emotions involved, but there are methods that can cost more or less.

So what is the least expensive way to divorce?

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TED Talk: Lawyer As Peacemaker

Harvard Law Professor and Collaborative Attorney David A. Hoffman recently gave a TED Talk on “Lawyer as Peacemaker.”

You can find the TED Talk after the jump:

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Full Service Pro Se Mediation For Less Than $2,500

If you are going through divorce, you should retain an attorney.  Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice that serves your interests.

However, many people, for whatever reason, choose not to hire a lawyer.  And yet, they need help reaching an agreement and filling out all the appropriate paperwork.  For those people, Family Diplomacy offers Pro Se Mediation, also known as mediation without lawyers.

In Pro Se Mediation, Adam B. Cordover will serve as a neutral mediator to help you and your spouse reach an agreement.  As Adam is not acting as a lawyer, he cannot provide legal advice to either spouse.  Pro Se Mediation is a private and cost-effective method to resolve issues related to divorce, and it can be done for a total cost of less than $2,500.

Here is how:

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