Divorce and Summer Schedules.

Greetings!

I want to talk to you today about divorce, separation, mediation and summer schedules.

The first thing to know is that according to Minnesota law (and I would guess most states), in a divorce the most important concern is the children (if you have any together). That means that if something is helpful for the kids and inconvenient for you, the kids come first. For example, at a young age, it is better for kids to see their father or mother more often for less time than less often for more time. This may seem intuitive, and yet I had a case where the parents were exchanging a baby every other month, and drove 500 miles.That’s crazy. for babies several times a week are most helpful for good bonding with each parent

I urge you to work out a schedule that works for the children as much as possible. Do what you can, even if it means the driving division is not even. Maybe one parent is unwilling or unable to transport the children to an activity. Best for the child to simply do the transportation and understand that you are helping the children move forward and heal. Isn’t such healing worth a little of your time? Yes, it can get annoying when one parent can’t or won’t step up to responsibility and yet you are still helping your kids at a difficult time for them. get help from me to work out visitation schedules and parenting time if you can’t do it yourselves.

Having said that, summer is a usually time of less stress for kids: less (or no) school, less homework, fewer activities etc. So kids can tolerate irregular or late schedules better. Summer is often the best time for longer vacations or for one parent who had less time during the school year to “catch up.” make up your summer schedules carefully and wisely and your kids will thank you for it, and reward you with happy stress-free memories and solid growth.

Happy Parenting!

Glen
Minnesota Qualified Neutral

Mediation, Couples and Church Fights

People in churches often say to me, “how can you do divorce mediation or child custody evaluations?”

Isn’t that hard? Well, yes, it can be, but the truth is church mediation is more often harder. Why? because the more people you ave involved in a conflict, the more difficult it is to resolve. The same thing is true of couples. Couples with no children are most often easier than couples with a child. The more children, the more complicated and the longer it takes to resolve things. And if there are guardians, other spouses or grandparents who want rights, then it’s the most difficult of all. even if all those people need to be talked about, it is easier when only two people are in the room doing the mediating. having spouses or significant others in the room means that the mediation process is longer, and unfortunately more expensive. With churches there may be 3 groups with each person in a group having a different idea of what the conflict is all about. And while couples are concerned about the children and money, churches can be concerned about theology or social status in the church or many other issues.

On the other hand, with a couple, if a parenting consultant is needed that takes more time. If there are alcohol or substance abuse issues it takes longer. If there are mental health issues, or children’s health issues it takes longer. the simpler and clearer the issues, the easier things are to get resolved. Then there may be no need of divorce mediation or arbitration or parenting time expediters (PTE) or parenting consultants (PC) or a custody evaluation. There may not even be a need for attorneys to defend your rights if you can come to an agreement in mediation with just the two of you. Divorce mediation can be half (or less) of what attorneys will cost and the results will be much better. You’ll be able to work together as parents rather than tearing each other apart in court.

Glen

Spring is Here! So is Divorce.

It’s spring and my phone is starting to ring for help with how to get divorced in Minnesota. I have been helping folks with divorce mediation for about 12 years now, and I’ve been mediating with couples on non divorce related matters for nearly 25 years. I’m happy to offer a free 1 hour divorce consultation. Call me!

Getting divorced is not easy. But using my divorce mediation services it can be done with peace of mind, knowing that your children will be taken care of without the need to go to court; Don’t let a judge decide what happens with your kids. Don’t you want to make those decisions? You are the parents; you know what’s best for your kids.

Next week I will write about what you have to figure out.

Tradition, Mediation and Church Disputes

So many church disputes are a result of folks forgetting the tried and true ways of doing things. A pastor leaves, a key member moves or passes away. In time, if  a church is not careful, it can slide into a way of doing things that doesn’t work very well. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that many churches can solve conflicts by simply returning to what worked in the past. Not in term of programming (that changes from generation to generation) but in terms of how things get done. Too often, work gets done by a select few while others, intentionally or not, get excluded from service.

In a conflict it is best to return to what once worked, and see if it could still work, or work again. then and only then should you look at major change. It could be that the wisdom that was passed down via constitution works just fine.That will save much effort in trying to “reinvent the wheel.” If it no longer works, however, then you are more likely to engage many church folks who are more traditional, because you tried the old solution. And if you try what once worked and now doesn’t, then you can explain that you tried the past solution, it didn’t work, and why.

When new solutions are needed, there should be a deliberate attempt to slow down, study things, and let overheated emotions cool. Brainstorming and testing a variety of solutions, not just jumping to a conclusion immediately, is key. Use groups that represent as many different viewpoints as possible: often a solution is found by combining several different approaches in new ways. Give the solutions time before discarding. A month or 3 months is not unreasonable for a test period. Many church folks will dislike a solution simply because it’s new.

Emotions and Mediation

Emotions and Mediation

How do your emotions affect the mediation process? Very much. But all too often they are left out of the mediation process. They are ignored. They are discounted. They are despised. Worse yet, they are elevated to the point where they are the only thing that matters.

Emotions and mediation. Emotions in mediation are important. But knowing WHY you are feeling what you are feeling is as important as recognizing WHAT you are feeling. Don’t just automatically assume that you are feeling fear because of your ex. It could be that he or she simply reminds you of someone you really were afraid of. you may have good reason to fear your ex. But if you’re not certain, it may be that there are other reasons you are afraid, and you’re blaming it all on your ex.

A good mediator can help you sort out these issues. He or she may even suggest you consider going to a counselor before you continue mediation. Once emotional issues are clearer, mediation can proceed forward at a much greater pace, with better results. Who wants to pay for a mediator if no decisions get made and emotions get the better of people?

A good mediator can handle many strong emotions. My background in chaplaincy, for example, has been invaluable in my mediation work. Grief, anger and regret, as well as many other emotions, are familiar to me. Emotions in mediation are not a problem unless they get in the way. In fact, proper expression and awareness of emotions can make the process easier. Sometimes if emotions are expressed properly, they can help facilitate an agreement. If emotions obstruct the process, the parties mediating can meet in separate rooms, though “shuttle diplomacy”  makes for a somewhat slower, and more expensive process. Emotions and mediation can help or hinder mediation.

Emotions and mediation. If you appreciate the role of emotion in mediation,  mediation is cheaper, easier and better. The result is better, too.

Comparing Family Mediation Services

Comparing Family Mediation Services: All Family Mediation Services Are Not Equal

When people ask me what I do, and I tell them I do Minneapolis Divorce Mediation or St. Paul Divorce Mediation, people often ask me “Are you an attorney?” The answer is “No.” And that’s in many ways a good thing. You don’t have to be an attorney to do Minneapolis Family Mediation or St. Paul Family Mediation. There is much more to providing Divorce Mediation services than being an attorney, though there are some  good mediator attorneys out there Why only some?.

In law school attorneys are taught how to fight, not cooperate, so it means many attorneys don’t know how to settle a dispute without taking sides. Minnesota divorce mediation services are 80-90% attorneys. Minneapolis mediation services and St. Paul mediation services fit this pattern, especially now since so many people have been  burned by going to court. the truth is, most Minnesota judges don’t want to settle divorce at all- they want parents to settle through discussion and Minnesota family mediation services. That’s because judges don’t know your situation, don’t know your kids, and however they decide, one or both parents are usually unhappy.

I don’t claim to know as much about law as a judge or attorneys. But isn’t Minnesota divorce mediation more about cooperating than fighting? Who decides what’s fair? Shouldn’t it be the parents? I know how to set limits, calm people and support them through the process. People can do what’s best for their kids with full knowledge of who their kids are- not a name and a birth date, but living breathing individuals. I was a chaplain at Mayo before I was a mediator, and the skills I learned in the ICU and ER with families make my mediation services different. With a good agreement, parents can start a pattern of cooperating, no fighting. Kids can see parents cooperating and they can accept the divorce more easily: it’s not the end of their world

Not all Minnesota mediation services are created equal!

Divorce Mediation Expectations

What are your divorce mediation expectations? Mediation is in some ways easy to understand and in other ways difficult. Most people when they think of mediation, they think of negotiation, and that dreaded word “compromise.” Actually, mediation in divorce  or divorce mediation (some call it family mediation) actually means working out a new set of values for the couple post split and esp. for child raising afterwards. Values about the old partner  include respect, fairness and trust. What are the new rules for relating?

Viewed in this way, divorce mediation seems easier. Both people want respect, fairness and trust. The old ways to express those values didn’t work, or else you’d still be together. So you need to find new ways. When you were together, trust may have meant that whenever your partner interrupted you, you at least tried to give him or her attention at that moment. But now that you’re apart respect might mean waiting until a certain time to talk, or to communicate  in a certain way. You might decide that some times and ways of communicating are the best and to use only these is being respectful.

Children can actually make divorce mediation, make family mediation easier. Though permanent separation is very hard on children themselves, it is easier  for couples to cooperate when children are involved. That’s because  each of you have a role post separation that is in someways the same as it was before: you are both parents. Since you are parents, most parents have the common value of wanting what is best for your child. Usually, that value is and should be your top priority. That’s important to remember.

You two may have different ways of express that value  of “best for the kids” i.e. one parent might believe it’s best for boys to play football while the other believes it’s too dangerous. But you both still want your children to learn to play with others and get exercise without getting hurt.  And so you still both understand that getting an agreement in custody mediation is important for your kids; so important, in fact, that you should be willing to accept things to get an agreement ,that you might not otherwise, for their sake, to avoid further pain for your kids. Even a mediocre agreement is usually better than  no agreement, because it avoids the damage to the children by the two of you continuing to fight.  Getting an agreement to ease your kids’ pain is more important than getting almost anything else you want in a settlement.

If you keep the children in mind as most important, that is more helpful than focusing on the turmoil the two of you might have. the state of Minnesota asks judges to focus on the kids’ best interests in divorce and separation, so you should, too. Divorce mediation can even help you understand each other enough so you can co-parent effectively. you may give up your “perfect settlement”. but your kids will thank you for it, both now and in the years to come.

Divorce Mediation and Regrets

Whenever people buy something, there is nearly always a twinge of “buyer’s remorse.” Simply put, buyer’s remorse is the sense that you might have done better if you’d waited, gotten a better price, gotten something different, or done nothing at all. buyer’s remorse is very common whenever a decision is made, mainly because of its finality; there are no more options out there to ponder, no way your choice can bring something better. And most times that “better” option means more heartache, more waiting and maybe even NOT the better option you thought it was. Most often, making a decision , even if it’s not quite perfect, is better than making no decision at all.

This phenomenon is very common in divorce mediation. When people choose mediation, Some options seem gone: getting an attorney, doing divorce yourself, leaving the relationship in limbo or simply moving out and moving on without looking back. people do regret mediation occasionally, though mediation seldom truly blocks off other options. In my experience in hearing about divorces, people are more likely to say things like “Why did we try attorneys first? Now $10,000 is gone, and we’ve both said things through our attorneys better left unsaid”  or “Why didn’t we settle this by mediating years ago?”

Sometimes, too, people regret the decisions they made in mediation to get an agreement. But even if that happens, most people understand that getting an agreement is usually even more important than anything you “give up” to get agreement. And the decision you made is a decision you made, not your attorney, not a judge and not your ex deciding the matter alone. Now occasionally people make decisions in mediation that they regret because they were so eager to push through the mediation , because they were tired. But even if that happens most divorce mediators do not hold people’s feet to the fire for 12 hours straight to get an agreement like people sometimes think mediators do. I personally always let people think about it before they decide once and for all.

So even if you have “buyer’s remorse” in divorce mediation, in family mediation, relax! Expect it. A little regret is normal. and usually simply means you understand emotionally that a decision has finally been made. Most people still decide to continue mediating or not revisit a decision made in mediation. And you can always change an agreement later on, if an even better option comes along. With children, things change all the time, and if they do, you can always make a new agreement to fit the new circumstances.

Divorce mediation, custody mediation, family mediation. It is truly a choice you won’t regret.( or at least more than a little bit).

 

Making the Best Use of Family Mediation

Most family mediation is really divorce mediation or separation mediation, making two household out of one. In Minnesota this is often done by attorneys, but though attorneys can be very helpful, it is often not necessary to retain or hire an attorney for most divorces or separations. Here’s how to do it.

First, find a good mediator- a family mediator. Not all mediators are the same. Some are really good at property division. Attorney mediators are good at details, but often not so good at emotionally charged situations. What many attorneys call mediation is often more negotiation, with pushing to get results. Counselor or pastor mediators (No, not all mediators are attorneys!) are wonderful for interpersonal conflict and working out creative child custody issues but may not have experience with S Corps or LLCs. I do have experience with such things and am happy to refer people to appraisers and accountants: they are generally less expensive than getting an attorney to help. I can get results with most folks.

Second, figure out how and where you cooperate and agree before you come in to see me. Bring a list of your issues and agreements to me, for example, and it can take hours less, saving you hundred of dollars.

Third, understand that mediation means give and take. You will not get everything you want. If you are locked into a position, and can’t think of any other way, you won’t do well in mediation, but you won’t get everything you want in court, either. With mediation you can ponder and try different options. In court you usually have to accept what the judge rules.

Fourth, it is best if you have children to focus on what’s best for them. The more you can cooperate, the better off your children will be. And so will you. Think before you speak and act. Words and actions in divorce can seldom be taken back. The single best indicator of how well kids will do (even grown ones) post-divorce is how well you two can cooperate, even though you may not agree on everything.

Custody mediation, divorce mediation and family mediation are seldom easy. But they are most often the best way to avoid unneeded expense, pain and anguish. Mediation can help you co-parent after separation in a way court battles can’t.

 

 

An Easier Divorce

I recently attended a Minnesota AFCC conference. AFCC is an organization devoted to legal professionals. The speaker, a law prof from Canada, spoke of how broken the Canadian and US court systems are with respect to family law (divorce and custody matters). She believed that it was necessary for family law to be taken out of the court system or remade entirely within the system. Not long ago, a bill was introduced in the Minnesota state legislature that would create a separate system for divorce and family matters.

When it comes to divorce mediation or family mediation, I agree. Minnesota divorce mediation should not be handled by the courts. With a little help, parents can handle their separations better than the court system. And judges would be better off too, because most judges hate deciding family law cases.

In many or even most family law cases, mediation without attorneys can accomplish agreement faster and cheaper than two opposing attorneys arguing back and forth on their own or worse yet, going to court.

At very least, attorneys should offer unbundled services: writing up a divorce agreement, appearing in court or writing letters. It is helpful to have agreements in divorce or custody mediations written up by an attorney so judges will understand what the couple wants. When I help a couple work out an agreement, I can refer the couple to some of the few attorneys who offer such services. Divorce mediation or custody mediation done in this way can be half (or even less) the cost of a traditional attorney aided divorce. There will always be cases (abuse, mental illness, extreme substance abuse) where attorneys will be necessary for divorce, but mediation without attorneys can work for the rest. An easy divorce or at lest an easier divorce. enough said.