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Divorce Support This forum is for discussing the emotional aspects of divorce: stress, anger, betrayal of trust and more.

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Old 12-27-2012, 03:08 PM
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My high conflict ex and I tried (closed) mediation today for a parenting plan. He started court against me in the fall, we don't go to our CC until Feb.

He had been pressing for mediation, I had been resistant because he's abusive and a drama king. But trying to work things out for the kids' best interest motivated me to at least try.

I had hoped for at least some progress. But no.

I was disappointed in that the mediator didn't try to work on baby steps progress rather than trying for a home run on the first day.

Instead we went all over reliving the past, lots of blame, not much going forward talk.

Shouldn't the mediator tried better to keep us on track?

I thought he'd do that but I didn't see much of that.

What should I have expected?

If we do another session (after we meet with a counsellor), what can I do?

I've been very passive in the past year but got really rankled today when he told more lies (exaggerating bigger).

Next time I will definitely bring a photo of both boys and place it there to keep us on track.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:18 PM
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That really sucks.I had a great experience with a mediator who was completely logical and child best interest focused.Got all the main issues done and dusted and kept drama out of it.It sure beats court.But you have to be able to compromise.That means both of you.Did you go in with a list of things to work out?Cant be expected to work everything out but a wish list is a good start.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
My high conflict ex and I tried (closed) mediation today for a parenting plan. He started court against me in the fall, we don't go to our CC until Feb.

He had been pressing for mediation, I had been resistant because he's abusive and a drama king. But trying to work things out for the kids' best interest motivated me to at least try.

I had hoped for at least some progress. But no.

I was disappointed in that the mediator didn't try to work on baby steps progress rather than trying for a home run on the first day.
I wonder if the mediator was trying to see how committed everyone was to actual mediation. Can't answer your question about how it should work, I haven't been to mediation plus I understand it is incredibly difficult if one of the parties comes in bad faith, with no real interest to get things sorted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
Instead we went all over reliving the past, lots of blame, not much going forward talk.

Shouldn't the mediator tried better to keep us on track?

I thought he'd do that but I didn't see much of that.
Yeah, not a good mediator in my opinion if they allow for all the past BS to be brought up again and again. That is a big problem with couples counselling when it revisits the past again and again without actually building bridges first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
If we do another session (after we meet with a counsellor), what can I do?

I've been very passive in the past year but got really rankled today when he told more lies (exaggerating bigger).
lancelot, personally I would encourage you not be too discouraged and be the strong one who is able to move ahead in the best interest of the children. It's going to take some work apparently but I hope you can keep you and your children above the crap.

Now, I also raise the question whether working with a mediator is the best thing, I would read, read and read more to find whether this is even money well spent. I would look into how mediation works, what are success rates and so on. I wonder if you could use settlement conferences to get judges opinions on your matter and both of you figure out solutions based on their recommendations.

Sorry, if I don't have tons of answers for you but I hope I can steer you in the direction of doing more and more research. Search this site for example for Bill Eddy, OurFamilyWizard and of course, mediation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
Next time I will definitely bring a photo of both boys and place it there to keep us on track.
Great idea about bringing those pictures, really, really interesting. Wonder if anyone has ever done that?
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
My high conflict ex and I tried (closed) mediation today for a parenting plan. He started court against me in the fall, we don't go to our CC until Feb.
It is hard to jugle mediation and court but, I highly recommend you try to get something resolved and settled in mediation. You may not get agreement on everything but, I would recommend to the mediator to propose a list of issues that the mediator, based on their involvement of the last session, would recommend for discussion at the next session.

Basically, what you need to do is have the mediator actually narrow the topics on what can actually be mediated. Some times trying to shotgun and resolve everything in one fowl swoop isn't a good idea.

Have your lawyer request the mediator to propose 5 topics to discuss at the next mediation session and to narrow the discussion to just relevant topics to resolve those issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
He had been pressing for mediation, I had been resistant because he's abusive and a drama king.
If he is "abusive" how did you even get to mediation? There should have been mandatory screening for power imbalances and domestic violence. Puzzling that you would be sent to mediation and that a mediator would even accept this matter without full DV screening prior to conducting the mediation.

Even your utterance of the word "abuse" should have triggered this best practice which is now required thanks to the wonderful work of Dr. Landau and others.

Quote:
It requires all family mediators -- and family arbitrators -- to attend a minimum of a two-day Domestic Violence Screening program. Today all clients must be screened individually for domestic violence and power imbalances. Depending on the outcome, clients are either referred to an alternative process or the process must be modified so that people are safe. I was very proud of that accomplishment because it’s lasted, it was passed unanimously by the OAFM board in 1994.
Dr. Barbara Landau, ADR, Mediation, Collaborative Law, women in law | Family Lawyer Magazine

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
I was disappointed in that the mediator didn't try to work on baby steps progress rather than trying for a home run on the first day.
Sounds like the mediator is feeling out both parties to see who is the unreasonable party. It takes time to sort out all the mess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
Instead we went all over reliving the past, lots of blame, not much going forward talk.
This is when you ask the mediator how any of the topics brought forward for discussion are *relevant* to resolving the issues at hand. One thing you may need to do is have the mediator sort out the relevancy and to notify both parties when a topic in discussion (or an allegation) is irrelevant to reaching settlement and why.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
Shouldn't the mediator tried better to keep us on track?
A good one yes.

Good Luck!
Tayken
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:09 PM
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Mediation can be great, but for abusive situations and/or drama queens its best to have both parties separate.It keeps the focus where it should be, on the kids .I agree with the other posters-the mediator was probably feeling out the situation.In a separate room situation he can talk to both parties and get the process started but it sounds like you had a three ring circus going on.Costs less than court and much quicker to resolve things than letting lawyers drag it out.All in all its a good fit if parties can agree on some issues.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:29 PM
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Mediation can be great, but for abusive situations and/or drama queens its best to have both parties separate.It keeps the focus where it should be, on the kids.
This is known as "shuttle mediation" or to most senior lawyers and med-arbs... Broken telephone. I don't recommend shuttle mediation. If the matter includes allegations of abuse the safest place is inside a court room. Note that there is no "shuttle mediation" in the courts... Both parties at all times are present in the room for any proceeding... Well unless one of the parties has gone to an "urgent" and filed "ex-parte".
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:43 PM
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It really is playing a record to my experience, the timing and maybe, just maybe was 1. far too early and 2. maybe never ment to be. Yes I realize that we are here for the same reason, and that is to settle affairs to part of your relationship and to do right by your children but both sides have to move somewhere and would that not be in the middle?? I would think at least somewhere that meets the intent of our laws that are used to accomplish this.

I think in order for you to mediate, arbitrate, plain old siimple negotiate it takes two, the ability to listen, the ability to see the big picture and at least in my experience to leave the emotions at the door - most of them anyway as it does no ggod to just scream at each other, even if it is only one way I see that as at least one person if not both has stopped listening. I remember posting my experience back in may 2011 but the one thing that has lingered is sitting there looking at the mediator, the mediator was looking at me and my ex screaming at the top of her lungs, then she got up to continue screaming as she walked out the door.

I know I did my very best to find out what I needed to face, to at least read the various acts just so I could at least understand what the law says and finally I tried to gather but when one person has done nothing but dig in their heels, done little to...... and then I must remember this is what I think, not my ex - she has the right to think in any way she deems worthy. Too bad that we never sat back at that mediation table........ but too many things have gone on in the last 12 months that it is no longer in the cards.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:18 AM
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Thanks everyone.

I really want to try again.

The idea of having a list/agenda mutually pre-approved of items to discuss in advance is a good one because without it, we went all over the place. Like a ship at sea in a storm without a destination.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
Thanks everyone.

I really want to try again.

The idea of having a list/agenda mutually pre-approved of items to discuss in advance is a good one because without it, we went all over the place. Like a ship at sea in a storm without a destination.
You can present recommendations to the other party and the mediator. Think of the top 10 things you want to address and then narrow that list down.

If there are children involved I highly recommend you stick with two basic elements for the next meeting and in this particular order:

1. Access
2. Custody

You want to get an agreement to access to the children put in place and agreed upon. Do NOT leave the meeting with anything unless it is signed by all parties. The terminology often used for this kind of agreement is a minutes of settlement. Request that it be signed by all parties or you are walking out with an expensive list of "good ideas" that may never get implemented and thrown out by the other party.

When you think about access how are the children going to be exchanged? When? Where?

If they attend school and daycare then it should happen at the school or daycare so there is no parental interaction. Parent A drops off and Parent B picks up. For the 1-2 times a year that school/daycare is closed then you have to arrange a neutral location. I recommend a fast food restaurant and inside the restaurant in front of the sales counter always. That way there are third party witnesses and it generally keeps people focused on the task of exchanging children and not hurling insults and causing conflict. Also, fast food restaurants are generally open all year round.

For a schedule I recommend a 2-2-5-5 50-50 access schedule or a 2-2-3 (called a 2-2-3-3 sometimes).

You can find more details on a 2-2-5-5 access schedule here:

http://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/f...plained-13702/

For holidays, generally focus only on the major ones like Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Let the other ones fall where they lie on the regular schedule. Over time the holidays will balance out and this eliminates the conflict that arguing over thanks giving, birthdays, labor day, family day and the may 24 weekend. What you want to do if you are dealing with someone who is high conflict is remove as much as possible to be debated about year-over-year.

With regards to custody... What people don't realize is that the incidents of custody are rare and far between. Unless one parent is moving around every year (or more than twice a year) and disrupting the children's schooling custody isn't worth the financial and emotional investment. Well, that is unless one of the children has a medical issue which is rare but, does happen.

Again, to go for "sole custody" isn't worth it. As a joint custodial parent the only issues you will have to agree on are major medical ones and school (where to go to school) and possibly religious. Again, these incidents of custody are infrequent. Most children go to the doctors, if even, once a year. Why bother fighting about that and especially if the children are healthy and happy.

Finally, as you have made an allegation of "abuse" I strongly recommend you discuss this in private with the mediator and ask for their professional opinion if the situation represents a power imbalance and if mediation is appropriate in your situation. If you are truly in an "abusive" situation then you shouldn't be at mediation or steps should be taken to protect both parties.

Good Luck!
Tayken

Last edited by Tayken; 12-28-2012 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:58 PM
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Thank you very much, your time and effort is very much appreciated.
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