The Mercurial Properties of “Truth”

When people come to mediation, especially in the cases of divorce, we always keep in mind that both of them are telling “the truth.”

So why the quotation marks?

Well, my co-mediator and I approach working with our clients with the baseline belief that we are listening to “the truth,” insofar as attaining “the truth” is possible in the arena of personal and intimate relationships. So while we believe what we hear, we know that “the truths” of our clients come through the filters of their individual perceptions and biases. This is important in many ways.

First, everyone wants to be heard.

Second, everyone wants to be believed.

And third, everyone deserves respect.

Now this doesn’t mandate that the other person agree with those “truths,” nor does it require that we as mediators facilitate a conversation based on a particular “set of facts.” In fact, we regularly find ourselves validating both “truths” and reminding our clients that perceptions differ.

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In this famous drawing, two images are visible.

Which do you see?

A young woman wearing a choker and looking over her right shoulder or an older woman, with a large nose, in profile with her hair covered with a scarf?

We have shown this drawing to our clients as a reminder that our perceptions are our own, and it’s possible to see the same thing in two totally different ways.

That sort of broad permission to be oneself is just one of the aspects that Holistic Mediation brings to the mediation setting. We always endeavor to approach each client as a whole person. If you are considering mediation as a vehicle to resolve a controversy or to start a new path in life, call us to schedule a free half hour consultation.

Jenna can be reached at 978.760.0482 and Rob at 978.479.2923

 

So Many Hoops

When a couple comes to the end of their domestic partnership and are looking for ways to part amicably, it is sensible for them to do so with some guidance from professionals who know “how the system works” and “what hoops need to be jumped through.” The courts require that particular matters be resolved before a judge can come to a finding and grant a divorce or sign off on a parenting plan.

While there are intricacies and tedium in the process, doing it right the first time is advisable. One of the best ways to ensure that what you bring to court will be well-received by the judge is to hire professionals. Mediators are trained to know what you need to have so the judge can deem your agreement fair and equitable.

At Holistic Mediation, we understand what you need to get through those hoops.

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Call 978.760.0482 (Jenna) or 978.479.2923 (Rob) to schedule a complimentary initial consultation to see if Holistic Mediation’s co-mediators can work for you.

No Need for Definite Definitions

Rob and I have found that for many couples, they put off coming into mediation because they are reluctant to admit publicly that their marriage is not longer good. We have heard “good” to be further detailed with these descriptors: viable, worthwhile, rewarding, healthy, etc.

Coming to a point of being able to delineate what “exactly” brings a couple to mediation is unnecessary. In the same way that no one puts demands on you to specify why you wanted to get married, your mediators have no expectation that you describe that which has led to your choice to divorce.

Of course, there are times when the couple wants to discuss those details. As each mediation is “of the couple,” those who want to open a discussion around the why behind their choice to separate are free to do so. But rest assured, your mediators do not need to be convinced of the merits of the choice behind your entry into mediation. As self-actualized people making a significant life change, we trust that by the time you arrive to us, you have (by and large) come to terms with the choice and now are seeking out professional assistance on formalizing your decision . . . unless you change your minds and thereby your choice, because that can happen, too.

We trust you.

Sirnea

When the Rug Gets Pulled Out

Most of us are accustomed to life going along at a predictable and manageable pace. We stick to routines, we have appointments, we meet expectations, we go day to day with confidence about how life will unfold.

And then, something flips, and we have to say “Goodbye” to the rug we’d been standing on.rug

For people who find themselves questioning their role in an unhappy, if not painful marriage, the feeling that their world is out of control can go from a barely audible hum to a deafening scream, depending on the level of crisis in any one moment. The stress and anxiety caused by this “place in life” is soul-depleting, sometimes leading people to turn away from the crisis.

When the day finally comes that the unhappy person can verbalize a need to make a change, that’s when the hard work begins. The couple has choices: stay unhappy, find a way to foster happiness, go in separate directions and seek independent happiness.

(Side note: “happy” and its derivatives are very broad terms used in a general way.)

At Holistic Mediation, we believe that you can be in control of your life.

No one is more skilled in making thoughtful and proper decisions about your life than you are. Imagine how empowered you can feel when you make a choice about your life, rather than a stranger in a long black robe who was given information through “translators,” i.e., lawyers.

Mediation honors your autonomy.

Mediation welcomes your insights.

Mediation respects your decisions.

Our role as your mediators is to facilitate your client-led negotiations, and if needed, we will draft your collaborated agreement. We know that peacemaking can prevail and that civility can be found even in the most emotional and challenging arena.

 

Please contact Jenna Brownson at 978.760.0482 or Rob Brownson at 978.479.2923 to learn more or to schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation.

Why Co-Mediate?

In co-mediation sessions, the clients get a double benefit by being able to access to two different skill sets one brought by Rob and the other by Jenna.

As an attorney, Jenna addresses the legal, logistical, and analytical aspects of conflict; as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Rob hones in on the relational and trauma-based aspects of people in dispute.

While Jenna is an attorney, and Rob a consulting psychotherapist, we do not represent mediation clients as an attorney, nor offer clinical explanations that underlie any disagreement. During the family mediation process, Jenna will share legal information but is precluded by ethical rules to give legal advice. Rob, through his years of experience working with conflict, provides insightful direction in getting at the core of the areas of dispute.

This two-skill-set model offers to all clients a much richer experience in the crafting of legitimate and personally meaningful resolutions.

 

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(Rob and Jenna at the Michigan Sand Dunes)

As the facilitators, Rob and Jenna promote discussion and negotiation that allows the conflicting participants the opportunity to exchange divergent views, ask questions, discuss difficult topics and find solutions. As co-mediators, they assume the role of neutral, third-party observers, assisting the participants to explore and find collaborated solutions. What generally results is the creation of a sound, mutually-acceptable agreement to address the parties’ particular circumstances.

If co-mediation is a model from which you might benefit, please reach out.

Jenna’s at 978.760.0482 and Rob’s at 978.479.2923

There’s No Need to Rush

One of the great perks of working through a conflict using the tools of mediation is the ability to take a break.

When the subject matter gets tough and the emotions run high, mediation allows for an intermission. Quite literally, we will in the middle (“inter”) of the process (“mission” = resolving the conflict) take a step away. Sometimes it is a five-minute break during a session; other times it’s a few weeks away from the mediation room.

Unlike litigating a conflict, where there are court calendars to which the parties are beholden, mediation works on the schedule of the clients.

It is just one more way that mediation fits the client, not the mediators’ calendar.

If you have the goal of resolving your conflict, but don’t want to rush to a remedy, call us. We’re in no rush either.

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Jenna 978.760.0482 or Rob 978.479.2923

Looks Can Be Deceiving

When parties opt to litigate their divorce, that is, when parties use the adversarial court system, they will invariably be asking a judge to make certain decisions for them. Generally, those judicial decisions are borne of a failure of the parties to make their own decisions themselves. Litigation exhaustion and the incentive a party might have to get his/her “way” factor into why some people would rather leave the choice up to a stranger in a long, black robe rather than trying to collaborate and compromise.

 

But no matter how nice a judge may look, like this handsome guy, that person is a total stranger to the parties.

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Judges do not have the luxury of time and, I would suggest that, they do not have any real interest in getting to know the parties so intimately that they can come to the “best” decision. This is not to say that the result can’t be “fair.” However, when parties hand over their agency to make self-guided decisions, they expose themselves to the greatest inherent flaw in the judicial system: not having all the information.

The people who do have all the information are the parties. And when those two people enter into mediation, they are the ones to decide, they are the ones with the autonomy, they are the ones with the ultimate authority to govern the result.

Mediation is the place where empowerment is not only found but also encouraged. At Holistic Mediation, we honor this reality, which, in and of itself, is a luxury that only the parties have.

To learn more about how you can find resolution in the midst of conflict using all  the information, please reach out to Rob Brownson LMHC, at 978.479.2923 or to Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.

 

 

 

 

Distrust is Going to Cost You

One of the many benefits of opting to pursue divorce through mediation rather than litigation is the cost savings. It is simply less expensive to pay for a series of mediation sessions and the drafting of the separation agreement than it is to hire two attorneys to go in and out of court, hold court-mandated meetings, negotiate the terms of the eventual separation agreement, and then work through multiple drafts to come to final terms. Oh, and then go back to court again to have the judge approve of the work. The foregoing description is of a couple that manages to find agreement. If the divorce goes to trial, the costs go up exponentially.

Ask around. If you know someone who retained a divorce lawyer, what was the initial retainer? How many replenishing retainers were required? What was the final cost? If you can find someone who ended up going through a full-blown trial, see if you can get that person to admit how much money was forked over. Keep in mind that person’s number should probably be multiplied by two as there were two parties using two law firms.

I cannot confidently say that mediation is always less expensive, but I’m willing to bet that it is 99% of the time. So why, if there’s a cheaper and equally legitimate option for divorcing couples, would people go the “litigation route?”

Because of trust.

Mediation requires full disclosure of all financial interests. Plain and simple. While some mediators are lawyers, they are not permitted–when acting as mediators–to use the “power of subpoena” to get to the parties’ bank accounts, retirement assets, stock portfolios, etc. When people come to mediation, they agree to put that all out on the table.

My co-mediator and I have seen, time and time again, suspicion and sideways glances that lead us to wonder whether full disclosure is happening. Moreover, when one of the two people state something like “it’s impossible to trust” that everything is being disclosed, mediation can fall apart.

For many people–short of choosing whom to marry–divorce is the most consequential financial move they’ll ever make. In order to use mediation, trust is essential. A promise to work in good faith cannot be forced upon a soon-to-be-divorced person.

At Holistic Mediation, we are honored to help people get from “unhappily married” to “civilly divorced.” We employ our professional skills to have this happen thoroughly and concisely. If either party cannot trust the other, the mediators cannot produce the required trusting environment. As much as we endorse the non-adversarial process of mediation, it is not for everyone. No need to despair though, there are lots of lawyers happy to help you through a litigated divorce, but it’ll cost you.

 

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Coming Up with a Plan

Over the years, my co-mediator and I have noticed that for most parents who are divorcing the task of coming up with a parenting plan is not the most difficult piece of a typical divorce mediation.

When Rob and I discussed why this was the case, we reflected on our mediations and came up with a general conclusion:

When two parents are asked what is in their children’s best interests, the parents–as experts of their own children–are in the unique (aka the best) position to assess what “best” should like with respect to their children.

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One of the benefits of mediation is the couples’ ability to dig deep and take the time to make thoughtful and evidence-based decisions. Unlike the hallways of family court where there is the pressure to “hurry up and compromise before the judge gets back on the bench,” a couple who uses mediation has the leeway to come to terms on their own terms.

If you’re thinking about mediation, consider reaching out to Holistic Mediation to meet Rob and myself to see if our approach would suit your goals.

 

Jenna can be reached at 978.760.0482

Rob can be reached at 978.479.2923