No one is better suited than you to decide how best to structure your life and address your needs and the needs of your family. In mediation the mediator facilitate a confidential dialogue between the couple or family members in conflict. This direct communication avoids misunderstandings, reduces tension and promotes understanding that speaking through attorneys in a traditional litigation model cannot.
In divorce mediation the mediator works to have the couple highlight interests and possible resolutions rather than restating their positions, while at the same time guiding the couple through all the issues that need to be addressed to finalize a separation or divorce. Unlike in a courtroom, the couple themselves make the many necessary decisions rather than a judge.
The first step for those contemplating mediation is a telephone conversation with Catherine where she will provide information about the mediation process and answer any questions you may have. If the participants decide to proceed and the case is one that is most suited for mediation rather than one of the other dispute resolution processes, Catherine will email both parties to find a mutually agreeable time to meet for their first session and will send documents to be reviewed and completed beforehand, thus maximizing the efficiency of time spent in session.
Each mediation session lasts between 1.5 – 2 hours. Most divorce mediations involving both children and asset and liability issues can be completed in 5 – 8 sessions, depending on the couple’s circumstances and their ability to work together outside of sessions. Less complicated situations, including those without children, may require only 2 or 3 sessions.
MARITAL OR RELATIONSHIP MEDIATION
Unlike divorce mediation, marital or relationship mediation focuses not on the means by which a marriage or other committed relationship will end, but on resolving particular conflicts within the relationship. Different from couples therapy, which often delves extensively into the psychological causes of the conflict, marital or relationship mediation serves to provide the couple with effective practical tools with which to resolve the issues that have brought them to mediation and to devise workable strategies for conflicts that may arise in the future.
PRE/POST NUPTIAL, COHABITATION AND PARENTING PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS
Many couples seek to avoid or minimize future conflict by entering into an agreement that either structures their existing relationship, including how to parent children in a parenting partnership agreement, or details the outcome of a future divorce or separation in a prenuptial or pre cohabitation agreement. Yet, despite the positive tenor with which they approach those discussions, they frequently experience difficulty in achieving mutual agreement on some or all of the terms. Through mediation, Catherine facilitates a dialogue that moves past statements of individual positions, and allows the couple to express to one another their underlying interests; in doing so, solutions to previously insurmountable problems may suddenly become apparent.
Following the loss of a loved one, or in preparation for a life transition, it is not uncommon for conflict to arise among family members over inheritance issues. In this time of grief, disagreements over money, real estate or personal effects can feel particularly painful and may be complicated by feelings of loss, guilt, and anger. Worse yet, the resulting turmoil may keep everyone from moving forward with their lives, straining relationships that are now more important than ever. Mediation can facilitate a conversation where each family member can express and have his or her concerns heard by the others. Through that dialogue, the interests underlying sometimes entrenched positions dating back to childhood can be identified so as to facilitate agreements that are satisfactory to everyone.
The parent-teen relationship is often particularly fraught with challenges. This can occur because of a break downs in communication or generational misunderstandings around expectations and discipline. Mediation can assist parents and teens in mending and enhancing their relationship by providing them with techniques that allow them to hear and be heard by each other – allowing for a deeper level of understanding not only to resolve the conflict at hand, but to build a deeper connection that will allow them to weather the inevitable conflicts that will arise going forward.
LGBT/GENDER IDENTITY ISSUES
Those in the LGBT community often experience conflict as a consequence of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can take the form of bullying or biased treatment at school. It is also seen in the alienation that can result from coming out to family members, friends and work colleagues. In these types of situations, where emotions run high and relationships need to be preserved, the safe and confidential space of mediation can afford the clients room for those difficult but critical conversations that will provide the parties the understanding necessary to move forward within a mutually respectful and supportive relationship.
Whether before, during or after the adoption process mediation can help resolve conflicts that arise. For example, every adoption, whether by a single parent or couple, involves a decision concerning the biological parents’ involvement in the child’s life. Perhaps a formerly unknown biological parent enter a child’s life or a formerly peaceful open adoption experiences some strain as the child gets older. In mediation Catherine facilitates a safe and constructive dialogue that allows each member of the triad (and the child’s voice if appropriate) to be heard and understood more fully by the other members, and, in turn, to identify and structure appropriate and mutually beneficial future relationships.