Mediation and the Family Home

House and moneyOne of the biggest benefits of divorce mediation is that the process helps separating couples create their own solutions rather than simply abiding by the decisions of a judge. This flexibility can be a boon when resolving many common divorce issues, including the issue of what to do with a family home. Mediation participants trying to make difficult decisions can explore multiple options and maintain control over eventual outcomes. Read more

How to Address Power Imbalances in Divorce Mediation

Hand with dollar banknote
In our two most recent posts, we addressed certain safeguards that may improve mediation’s effectiveness when there is a higher than average level of conflict between participants, including considering a structured mediation process, and taking advantage of pre-mediation coaching. Today we will look at another common aspect of high-conflict divorce mediation: the existence of “power imbalances.” How do power imbalances tend to show up in divorce mediation, and what can mediation participants expect from a mediator in terms of safeguarding against the possibility that a power imbalance might sabotage a potentially successful mediation? Read more

Could You Benefit from Pre-Mediation Coaching?

ground-rules.jpgIn our most recent post, we discussed how some divorcing couples might want to take advantage of a more structured mediation process. We mentioned pre-mediation coaching as one aspect of such a process. So what exactly is pre-mediation coaching, who offers it, and who might possibly benefit from it?

What is Pre-Mediation Coaching?

In pre-mediation coaching, a prospective mediation participant meets with the mediator or another professional to prepare for the mediation. The main goals of the preparation are alleviating anxiety regarding the mediation process, rehearsing good communication techniques, and building comfort with the idea of formulating proposals and counter-proposals. Role-playing with a coach can help the participant prepare for issues that may arise during the mediation and practice skills that will help the participant stay on track. These skills include not taking the other party’s positions personally, slowing down and responding logically, and maintaining a focus on the facts and issues at hand. Read more

Choosing Mediation in a High-Conflict Divorce

Frayed Rope about to BreakHave you been considering divorce mediation for a while, but you just aren’t convinced that you and your difficult soon-to-be-ex would make good candidates? Attorneys and judges don’t always recommend mediation for couples who have experienced high levels of relationship conflict. There is a risk that one or both spouses will not approach the process with a collaborative attitude, and will instead refuse to compromise on anything, or worse, will just use the mediation sessions to vent anger and frustration. Read more

Divorce Mediation Up Close and Personal: Part IX – Derek and Stacey Recap

Business meeting in an officeSince the beginning of 2015, we have been following one couple, Derek and Stacey, through the divorce mediation process. As the year comes to a close, they are wrapping things up. They have worked out a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and will soon receive their final judgment of divorce. Thanks to a positive and productive mediation experience, both Stacey and Derek are satisfied with their settlement terms. They are functioning amicably in their new relationship as single co-parents, their children are thriving, and they are both looking forward to bright new futures. Read more

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Divorce Mediation up Close and Personal: Part VIII—Derek and Stacey Calculate New Jersey Shared Parenting Child Support

divorce mediation case study seriesWhen we last saw Derek and Stacey, in Part VII of “Up Close and Personal” they were wrapping up their third mediation session. They had made great progress working out their property division and deciding how to handle child custody, but they still needed to deal with child support, and possibly alimony. Read more

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Divorce Mediation up Close and Personal – Derek and Stacey, Part VII

child supportIn Part VI of “Up Close and Personal,” our divorce mediation case study series, we watched Derek and Stacey reach several major decisions regarding distribution of their marital property and debts. As we rejoin them, they are returning to their third mediation session after a break. During the break they reviewed some charts that their mediator, Ms. Smith, made up to illustrate the property division. She asks if they have any questions. Let’s see what happens next… Read more

Divorce Mediation Up Close and Personal: Derek and Stacey Case Study, Part VI

divorce assets

When we last saw Derek and Stacey in installment No. V of our ongoing divorce mediation series, they were in the middle of their third mediation session. They had completed an accounting of their assets and debts and worked out values for both the family home and Derek’s accounting business. They had also reached agreement regarding how to divide the home value into separate and marital property. When they reached a discussion of their debts, however, things became tense. Let’s rejoin them after their 15 minute break, and see if they can reestablish the amicable tone they achieved earlier in the session. Read more

Divorce Mediation up Close and Personal: Derek and Stacey Case Study, Part V

Couple meeting with divorce mediator

In the last installment of our continuing mediation case study series, Derek and Stacey completed their second divorce mediation session. There were a few tense moments, but with the help of their mediator, Ms. Smith, they were able to establish a temporary parenting schedule for their children. They arrive at mediation session number three ready to examine their assets and debts. After this they plan to look at their individual incomes and expenses going forward, and consider the impact of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.
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What is a Mediation “Caucus”?

Meeting room with label "Meeting in progress"

In installment IV of our ongoing mediation case study, we saw Derek and Stacey participate in a “caucus” when their child custody discussion became heated. If you are considering mediation in your own divorce case, you might be wondering exactly what a caucus is, and when it is most likely to be appropriate in mediation.  Read more