Tension Level, Divorce Mediation and Church Mediation

When people are trying to work out a particularly difficult problem in mediation, whether church mediation or divorce mediation, a couple things happen. Tempers begin to flair, of course, and often cutting and/or sarcastic remarks are exchanged. What else happens?

Often the fight or flight response comes on in your brain.When that happens, people have about 7 seconds to calm down, so experts tell me, before the brain is flooded with biochemicals. Now that isn’t bad when you’re a primitive person trying to deal with a tiger or a fire that might be coming your way. But it’s not very helpful when it comes to civil discussions. After 7 seconds, even if people do calm down, those chemicals stay in your system for 12 hours or until you sleep next. So in a sense, even if you do calm down after being upset, you’ve still lost, because those biochemicals are going to hang out in your brain, making arguments or emotional withdrawal much easier.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to call it a day for the mediation session. Sometimes you can continue to work if you are in separate rooms, but it’s slower. If you do manage to calm people folks down in those first 7 seconds, then it is still best to take a break or at least work with just one party or group.

This can make divorce mediation or church mediation slow, tenuous and spread over many days. But often doing it this way is the only real opportunity for change in a challenging situation. The only other alternative is court, sad, but true

Spring is Almost Here. It’s Mediation Season!

It’s been a long, snowy winter here in Minnesota and many couples are feeling a bit testy. Or more than a bit. Every couple has issues, and issues don’t always have to lead to divorce and divorce mediation. Many issues can be resolved on your own without a mediator, if you are willing and able to communicate.
Many people in troubled marriages can’t communicate, or at least, not without help. That’s where I come in. I can help couples work things out so they don’t divorce. In cases where folks are simply not compatible any more (if you ever were), I can help you divorce amicably, affordably and relatively painlessly. For you folks who have never married, I can help, too. I can help you work out a child custody agreement that you can get signed into law by a judge or referee.

Conflict in relationships is almost never easy. I can help. Marriage mediation, divorce mediation and child custody issues I have lots of experience with. Do you need a parenting time expediter (PTE) or a parenting consultant, or even a custody evaluator and a full custody evaluation? I can do that too.
I can simply be someone to help you reach decisions with no other help from
me, or I can put my years of drafting agreements to use for you, with dozens of suggestions of what might work well for you, and what won’t work well for you or your children (do not exchange a baby month-by-month and expect him or her to have a good relationship with both parents). I know what works for you, and more importantly, I know what can work for your kids. Call me!612-670-7980 or 507-269-9079.

I can come to you for mediation. And you will get things done!

A Hint of Spring and Divorce Mediation

We human beings are creatures with moods that can be affected by so many things. One of the things that people seldom think of, but which can affect one’s mood dramatically is the weather. This is especially true of people who are considering separation and divorce. When we’re stressed by losing one of the most important relationships we have, we are often less aware of the things which affect us.

Today there is a hint of spring in the air in Minnesota. When things get spring-like, it is common that I get calls for divorce mediation or parenting consultant work. Now this time of year, people are not willing to make a big move. It’s still quite cold and snowy-covered. But they are thinking ahead to when they might have the energy to move on. I can help them to do that.

It is not easy for anyone involved with a divorce or separation, even though you both may believe it is in yours, and especially your children’s best interests. Mediation with me can make such a process as simple and comfortable as it can be (it never is really comfortable).

There are other ways to separate that are much more explosive and expensive. But those ways most often just make the pain and hardship even worse.

To make it through a divorce you need to handle one step at a time. I can help you take those steps. Call me for a free consultation. I am happy to help!

Co-Parenting During the Holidays (mediation can help)

The holidays are coming, and they present a unique challenge for couples who are divorced and separated. The patterns that were established when you were together are still there, and now whose house to go to has even more challenges. That’s why mediation can help. Divorce mediation or post-divorce mediation can make things a lot easier. I have worked with hundreds of couples, so I have a few ideas about child custody that you may not have thought of:

How important is celebrating on the exact day of the holiday?

If you celebrate before or after, it is easier to schedule family time, easier to get food and presents at stores or online because you’re not fighting other people trying to do the same thing. You can breeze through stores in nothing flat. Your young children will not even know when the holiday is. Older kids will generally not care, especially if the holiday is celebrated earlier. They may even get more presents and special meals that way.

How important is it to have ALL the family together?

Celebrating in smaller groups can be less hectic, and enable your loved ones to spend more time with their family one-on-one. games are possible in groups of 4-6 that may not be possible with larger groups. You may even be able to avoid difficult Uncle Ernie the drunk or Great Aunt Susie the cheek-pincher. It is often less expensive, and perhaps more meaningful.

What is the most important holiday for you and your children?

You can often trade holidays that are important to an ex who wants them (Christmas for 4th of July) so you both win.

With these and many other questions I can ask, you can make co- parenting work, even during the holidays. Schedule a free appointment and you’ll see what I mean.


Fall and Family Disputes Need Mediation

Here we are in fall. The sun is lower and the weather cooler. It is a downer time of year for most of us. We feel cold and dread the coming of winter (all except those who like winter sports: my daughter, for example).

This can affect our ability to manage our feelings with respect to our families. We get irritable and that leads to fights, and even to separations. if you’re already separated and considering divorce, even more so.

What can you do about it? be careful with boundaries. Be careful what you say to your significant other; you can’t take it back very easily. Don’t assume you know what anyone else thinks or feels, because you don’t. Don’t turn disagreements into fights, and fights into something even worse. It will save you a lot of headaches if you work it out or try mediation.

My mediation business can help. Whatever your problem; divorce, never married custody, maybe you need a parenting consultant or custody evaluator. If you can work it out with the help of someone else, it will be better for you, your kids and your finances. Don’t go directly to an attorney, why don’t you try me instead?


Divorce and Summer Schedules.


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!

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.


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.