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

 

 

Co-Mediation is Hard to Find Despite its Value

vennIn co-mediation sessions, the clients get a double benefit through their access to two different skill sets brought by Rob and 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 circumstances 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.

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.

Please contact us at 978.760.0482 (Jenna) or 978.479.2923 (Rob) to begin discussing how co-mediation can work for you.

When Chewing Glass is More Appealing

We get it: coming to agreements with someone you have come to _________ (distrust, despise, question, worry over, feel suspicious of, and/or wonder how you ever fell in love with years ago) can be a lot to ask. This is especially so if you find yourself feeling responsible for the house and the kids and the grocery shopping and the paycheck.

We’ve seen it: people who just want it to be over–yesterday, people who carry resentment and contempt rooted in betrayal and anger, people who are so fragile they feel like the slightest change could crush them, and people who are simply exhausted from trying.

When given the choice, many would choose a mouthful of glass over trying to come to terms on important matters in a mediation.

Why? Because it’s hard and because no one goes into marriage thinking: “You know, some day when we get divorced, I know we’ll be super kind and compassionate to each other so the process is just as rewarding as registering for this lovely, agreed-upon china pattern.”

We know.

And because we get it, we give you room to speak your peace before rushing to resolution

And because we’ve seen it, we know that everyone’s process unfolds at their rate and particular to them.

And, because we know, we offer kindness and compassion.

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Is It Time to Hit the Road?

Many people who find themselves facing a choice between staying in a failed marriage and moving toward divorce feel paralyzed by taking that first step. That “first step” often takes the form of admitting the failure to their spouse after having lived with the internal feeling for some amount of time. Having that first discussion–or debate–over the conclusions drawn about the decline of the marriage can take years. The pressure people feel to stay together “for better or for worse” can lead otherwise rational and thoughtful people to remain in a relationship that no longer serves either participant.

It has been said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The quote is attributed to Lao Tzu who actually said something about a “1,000 li journey.” A li is an ancient Chinese measurement equivalent to 360 miles. Through sloppy translation, we got “a journey of 1,000 miles,” even though a fair translation would be “a journey of 360,000 miles begins with a single step.” Not quite as catchy, and quite a bit longer a trip.

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While this quote was originally meant to convey the notion that great things start from humble beginnings, we at Holistic Mediation know that this axiom can also be applied to taking that first step toward a new chapter in one’s life. Although there is humility in the admission of failure, there is also the start of an unknown, albeit potentially great thing.

If you think that you’d like to move in a new direction, please call Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 or Rob Brownson, LMHC at 978.479.2923.

Why Mediation? Part 3 of 3

Mediation saves time. Lots of it.

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When parties opt to mediate instead of litigate, the parties decide how the process will move forward and at what rate. Litigation of an average divorce can take eighteen months to two years because when you ask for the court to be the arbiter of your decisions that court also gets to put you on its schedule. And in case you’ve never been to court, it’s a slow moving behemoth of red tape and paperwork and “hurry up and wait.”

Mediation goes at your pace. You want to be done in a short time? We’ll work with you. You need to pace yourself? Great, we’ll be sure to accommodate that.

If you’re looking to have control of your calendar, then mediation is a much more attractive choice to litigation.

Contact Jenna at 978.760.0482 or Rob at 978.479.2923 to schedule a complimentary half-hour consultation.

Why Mediation? Part 2 of 3

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from people who have litigated their divorces or gone to court over custody and/or visitation issues is the total lack of privacy.

In addition to inviting lawyers into the controversy with the parties’ choice to litigate the matter, all sorts of folks get to hear about the why and how and when the problems between the parties began.

All sorts of court personnel get a glimpse into what happened during the marriage that led to the irretrievable breakdown.

All sort of complete strangers are witness to the blaming and finger-pointing which are inevitable components of the “adversarial” system that pits Party #1 versus Party #1.

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Bear in mind that Party #1 and Party #2 are by and large two people who once loved each other and likely had children together. Now they’re standing in court–center stage–for the “entertainment” of people who can never exactly “know” the details, but can only pass quick judgment on the unfolding scene.

Mediation is different. It is a place that respects privacy.

When people come to our office to collaborate toward a client-created solution, it’s them and us in the room: (usually) two parties and two co-mediators. You might be pleased to learn that the two co-mediators, i.e., Rob and myself, are duty-bound to confidentiality at all times and neither one of us could ever be subpoenaed to court as we are protected from testifying by statute. These realities lend another layer of privacy to the parties.

For those wishing to keep their domestic lives and personal matters private from apathetic, though critical strangers, mediation is always a better choice over litigation.

 

Why Mediation? Part 1 of 3

Even though many consider meditation a more relaxed and informal way of resolving a conflict that could otherwise be litigated, that notion is a little fuzzy. People who use mediation as a tool for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) find many advantages to those who “lawyer up” and battle their matters out in court.

One way that mediation is nearly always better than litigation is the cost incentive. In almost every case, it is simply less costly to pay for a mediated settlement than it is to pay for a litigated result.

Let’s take for example one set of “facts” and cost compare: A divorce of a couple who have been married for eighteen years, two minor children, the marital home, two vehicles, retirement accounts for husband and wife, a significant inheritance coming from the wife’s side, one boat, and a small plot of lakefront property out of state.

Presume that the parties are amenable to a fair and reasonable settlement in a timely fashion.

If the parties choose to litigate the matter, they are likely to spend between $15,000.00 and $20,000.00.  That figures two lawyers each working for between 30 and 40 hours on the matter. The lawyers’ billable time included the hours sitting in the hallway of the courthouse waiting for the case to be called.

If instead the parties choose to mediate the matter, they are likely to spend between $3,500.00 and $5,500.00. That figures co-mediators working between six and ten sessions and all costs to draft the requisite paperwork for court.

When it comes to cost, a mediated agreement is better than a litigated result–nearly 100% of the time.

We believe at Holistic Mediation that you should keep as much of your own money as possible–100% of the time.

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The Co-Mediation Model

In co-mediation sessions, our clients get a double benefit through their access to two different skill sets brought by Rob and 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.

Connection. Hands trying to fit two puzzle pieces together.

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 circumstances 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.

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 you are interested in the richer model that co-mediation can offer, contact Rob at 978.479.2923 or Jenna at 978.760.0482.

Tag-Team Mediation

Years ago when I first decided to become a mediator, I noticed that there were two types of professionals who attended mediation trainings: lawyers and mental health counselors. The ratio was a fairly consistent 3 to 1, respectively. While it seemed as though most of the lawyers in the room had backgrounds in social justice and family law, none of us was able to expertly hone in on the relational complexities that always come up in mediations.

Uninterested in getting an advanced degree in counseling in order to bring both sets of skills to my clients, I, instead found someone who already was a mental health professional to join me. I didn’t need to look far to find a willing and interested partner. In fact, I needed only to look across the dinner table at my spouse.

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(No that’s not our real dinner table.)

Rob Brownson, a licensed mental health counselor with two decades of experience working with individuals and couples in crisis, readily agreed to complete the same rigorous training as I had and for the two of us to begin co-mediating complex, family-related matters.

Rob and I both believe that the co-mediation model is special as it brings two distinct sets of professional skills into the room alongside two distinct sets of life experiences. Our clients have the added benefit of knowing that two critical thinkers are working for them to support them as they resolve their conflicts while ensuring a comprehensive and holistic approach to the collaborative process.

To book an initial, complementary consultation, call Jenna at 978.760.0482 or Rob at 978.479.2923