FINAL_DSC_7171-819x1024Mediating divorce cases can be stressful and draining on the mediator. But what happens when a case shifts gears suddenly and becomes a classic “high-conflict” case in which tensions rise, and you quickly feel like you’ve lost control of the mediation and may not be able to rescue it.

What can you do?
Building structure within each basic mediation step
Step 1 : Signing the agreement to mediate
 spend more time bonding with clients during this stage
 establish that you will have tight control over the mediation process
 thoroughly explain the process and rules of communication
 let them know you’ll pay equal attention to their concerns and proposals
Step 2 : Making the agenda
 have clients raise the issues – not you
 emphasize that it is the parties’ dispute and decisions to be made, not the mediator
 encourage each party to look at and speak to the mediator instead of each other
Step 3 : Making Proposals
 begin the proposal process earlier than usual mediations, to keep highly intense emotions from taking over
 focus on understanding a proposal before allowing the other person to respond
 manage the process with a very direct approach, while not taking responsibility for the outcome
Step 4: Finalizing Your Agreements
 remain calm and remind yourself and the parties that you are responsible for the process, not the outcome
 remember that high-conflict cases may take twice as long to reach final agreement
solving and the other is focused on relationship defensiveness – this may cause them to go round and round several times before signing the agreement
It is possible to help parties in high-conflict cases reach agreement and develop solid parenting plans by using a highly-structured method like this new resource

New Ways for Mediation: More Structure, More Skills and Less Stress for Potentially High-Conflict Cases

Is Divorce Mediation for You?

 

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

billeddyby Bill Eddy

Movie review Part 1

[I am writing this movie review “Part 1” before I have seen the movie Divorce Corp which will be released on Jan. 10, 2014. I have just seen some trailers and received some inside tips.]

I was pleased – but also concerned – when I learned that a movie about Family Court reform was coming out. Why pleased? Because I’m a family lawyer and family counselor who practices Divorce Mediation. I want everyone to know that Divorce Mediation is a better way to make divorce decisions – for most people. Not because Family Court is evil, but because it has an adversarial structure which is designed around one party “losing” and the other party “winning.” This may be good for deciding criminal guilt, business disputes and some public policies, but not good for working out parenting relationships and household finances after a breakup. I had hopes that this movie would help point this out.

I represented clients in Family Court for 15 years and I also give seminars to family law judges for the National Judicial College. I know that most judges and family lawyers try to overcome the adversarial structure to truly help families make good decisions out of court, or good decisions in court – especially to help the children of parents in conflict. I also know that about 80% of people getting divorced never go to court and settle their divorces or parenting disputes with out-of-court agreements – such as in Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce – based on family laws and guidelines that have been well-established over the past 40 years.

For this reason – the inability to resolve issues based on established standards – and because of my mental health training, I know that one or both parties in many (most?) Family Court cases today have a mental health issue that is unrecognized – such as a personality disorder, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, depression – disorders which are often characterized by denial and blaming others. This reflects the growth of these problems in the larger society today. These are not problems unique to Family Court, but Family Courts need to recognize them.

Sadly, Family Courts provide a forum for people with such problems today (in contrast to when I began practicing law), especially because family lawyers, judges and other professionals are not trained in identifying mental health issues, get stuck arguing about them out of ignorance and there are few mental health resources for treating them even if they were properly identified. Family courts were never designed to diagnose and treat mental health issues, and the adversarial process is guaranteed to fail at it. Reforms need to involve more mental health training for professionals and more conflict resolution skills for clients to help them make decisions out of court in non-adversarial settings.

Why am I concerned about the movie? Because I have been informed that Divorce Corp does not focus on the structure of court, but focuses on a more shrill “all-or-none” view of family court, family lawyers and other professionals. By seeming to claim that Family Court judges think they are God (a few, but not most), that family lawyers are all greedy (some, but not most) and that most allegations of abuse are false (many are but many aren’t – but the adversarial process makes it harder to figure these out), this movie is likely to create a lot of noise and anger, but very little useful dialog and reform. By making it personal and using “all-or-none” thinking – rather than talking about the mental health issues which dominate today’s family court hearings – it misses a great opportunity to promote useful reforms.

[I’ll talk about the reforms that I believe are needed, after I see the movie – in Movie Review Part 2 next week.]

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Bill Eddy is a lawyer (Certified Family Law Specialist), a child and family therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center. He is the President of the High Conflict Institute, which provides training worldwide in managing “high-conflict people” in legal disputes, workplace disputes, healthcare disputes and educational disputes. He is the author of several books, including The Future of Family Court: Structure, Skills and Less Stress. www.HighConflictInstitute.com.

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

20 Questions for Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013

With Thanksgiving upon us, ask yourself not only “what” but “why” and for “whom” you are grateful.

By Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D.

It can be challenging to create rich and meaningful family conversations about gratitude. I know I’ve felt disappointed when my “What do you feel thankful for?” questions are met with quick, predictable responses that bring the conversation to a close soon after it’s begun. Last Thanksgiving season, I took a different approach by coming up with 20 gratitude questions to help enliven our sharing.

Feel free to borrow these or come up with your own. You can even copy the questions onto small pieces of paper and invite family members to each choose one for everyone to answer.

May these questions help to spark the spirit of Thanksgiving!

1) What teacher are you most thankful for and why? What did you learn from him or her?
2) What’s the season you’re most thankful for, and what’s your favorite part of each season?
3) What electronic device are you most grateful for, and what does it add to your life?
4) What musician or type of music are you most thankful for?
5) What are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?
6) What form of exercise or physical activity are you most thankful for?
7) What foods are you most thankful for?
8) What local store or restaurant are you most grateful for? How does it contribute to your quality of life?
9) What book are you most grateful for and why?
10) What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life?
11) What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?
12) What form of art are you most thankful for: music, acting, writing, painting, drawing or something else?
13) What place do you feel most grateful for and why?
14) Name three days in your life that you feel especially grateful for.
15) What color do you feel most thankful for — is there a color that you can’t imagine living without?
16) Is there a personal limitation or flaw that you’ve come to appreciate?
17) What vacation are you most grateful for?
18) What philanthropic cause or organization do you feel thankful for?
19) What product do you use on a daily basis that you most appreciate?
20) What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?

Originally posted on DailyGood.org.

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

254x331With the holidays right around the corner,  it may be the perfect time for you and your co-parent to try KidsOnTime.com, the most advanced shared parenting calendar on the market.

Divorced? Separated? Blended Family?

Whatever your scenario, Kids On Time will help you and your co-parent communicate more effectively.

Kids On Time is the proven leader in reducing conflict, court appearances and improving the lives of the children when parents are living in separate homes.

We know shared parenting isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it, and with Kids On Time it can be made easier.

Our online calendar is equipped with drag and drop appointment scheduling, enhanced parenting time schedules and location mapping with mobile check-in functionally.

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Try the Free Trial today!

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

KOT_New_Logo900

Kids On Time utilizes a different approach to raising children in two households by providing a co-parenting road-map which changes the way parents look at parenting after divorce.
Our ultimate goal is for the lives of your kids to be better, with greater involvement and participation by both parents.

Co-parenting tip of the month

Why all this focus on clothes?

“Those clothes aren’t coming into my house.” “You aren’t wearing anything bought by that person into my home.” “Whatever they buy you, needs to stay at their place, I do not want to see it.” The amount of times these statements and similar ones are said to children who split their time between multiple homes is absolutely mind boggling, not to mention, sad.  Parents who say that they care about the well-being of their child, that they would give them the world, that they would do anything for them, that their former spouse is the one who is uncaring, unsupportive and a monster, are the same people who utter these statements when their children return from their other parent’s home.

Really…? What is the big deal about clothing? It’s time, for those of us in any shared parenting situation to step back and take a real hard look at ourselves and our actions. When we act with aggression, whether outward or passive, the only people who really suffer are the kids. Think about it. What message are you sending, when you do not let your child where a pair of pants purchased by someone else? Does this sound rational? Does this sound mature? Does this sound supportive? Does this sound like someone who has the child’s best interest at heart?

Your divorce is about you and your former, not about your child. They still have two parents, you, and the other.

The clothing is a symbol of control. You can change your behavior. You can teach your child that, despite your feelings, you love them and accept that they love and have a relationship with their other parent and that person’s significant other. You do not have to like the person, but it is time that you respect them. It may not be easy to make the change. You may not like their taste. But, you love your kids. You want to be a good example for them. You want them to know that treating people with respect is important. So, do that. Let them wear the pants, shorts, shoes, shirts, and jackets that are purchased from your former. Your kids will appreciate it. You will eliminate another stressor in everyone’s life, which, will make everyone’s life just a bit better. Remember…its only clothes.
Give it a try.
Cheers

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

Writing a BIFF Response

September 26, 2013

BIFF respLayout 1onses (or “BIFFs”) are usually in writing, although they can be in person as well.

BIFF stands for:

  • BRIEF
  • INFORMATIVE
  • FRIENDLY
  • FIRM

This may seem easy, but it’s actually pretty hard to do at first – while restraining yourself from doing Blamespeak back. It’s often helpful to step back and not respond right away. Here’s a short description of each step:

  • BRIEF: Your response should be very short, such as one paragraph of 2-5 sentences in most cases. It doesn’t matter how long the Blamespeak statement is that you are responding to. The point is to avoid triggering HCP defensiveness in the other person and focusing them on problem-solving information. Don’t give too many words for the other person to react to. The more you say, the more likely you are to trigger another Blamespeak response – which doesn’t do you any good.  Keeping it brief isn’t easy. When I can, I give my BIFF responses to someone else to review before I send them out. The reviewer almost always cuts them down – often in half.
  • INFORMATIVE: Give a sentence or two of straight, useful information on the subject being discussed. If there isn’t a real subject or issue (because the personality is the issue), you can still give some related helpful information. It shifts the discussion to an objective subject, rather than opinions about each other. Don’t include any words of your opinion or defensiveness about the subject. Just provide straight information, presented in neutral terms, as briefly as possible.
  • FRIENDLY: This is often the hardest part, but very important. You can start out by saying something like: “Thank you for telling me your opinion on this subject.” Or: “I appreciate your concerns.” Or just: “Thanks for your email. Let me give you some information you may not have…” You can also end it with a friendly comment. For example: “I hope you have a nice weekend.”
  • FIRM: The goal of many BIFF responses is to end the conversation – to disengage from a potentially high-conflict situation. You want to let the other person know that this is really all you are going to say on the subject. In some cases, you will give two clear choices for future action. If you need a response, then it often helps to set a firm reply date. If you are going to take action if the other person does not do something, then you could say, for example: “If I don’t receive the information I need by such and such date, then I will have to do such and such. I really hope that won’t be necessary.” (Note that this is both firm and friendly.)

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

125x125Co-parenting is a norm now. When I was a kid, not a single kid in my class came from a divorced home, but many do now. Raising kids in two homes adds a layer of complexity to parenting that needs careful handling. Otherwise, kids suffer.

This important co-parenting tip from KidsOnTime.com, which is a tool for divorced parents in separate homes to use to keep information about the kids in one place. Their Online Family Calendar offers real-time alerts, drag and drop scheduling, kids’ soccer schedules, piano lessons and other events, and other advanced features to helps parents focus on parenting and be involved in their kids’ lives.
If you are divorced, separated or otherwise raising your children in a separate home from their other parent, it is important, for their well-being that you learn to co-parent. Do not just share parent, parallel parent or parent in tandem, but, instead, actually co-parent. This means treating the other parent with respect, not bad-mouthing them in front of your children or on social media. If your child comes to your home in an outfit that was purchased by the other parent, that is okay, let them wear it, it shows that you are accepting of the situation and that you care about their well-being. When it is your parenting time, focus on being a parent, and listening to your child, not about what your personal wants and needs are. Focus on what is best for your child, what you can do to ensure that you are raising them to be well-adjusted and resilient. Put your conflict with the other parent aside. Work with them. Using tools such as Kids On Time can truly make a difference in the methodology and effectiveness of how you communicate with the other parent. Make each communications decision with your children’s best interest at heart, and you will find co-parenting is far less stressful than shared parenting ever was.

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.