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DivorceWhisperer | The Divorce Whisperer®

Conflict Resolution Day

October is here, and the leaves are changing, taking on beautiful autumn hues.  October is also Conflict Resolution Month, when we are encouraged to take a step back and look at any changes that might be necessary for our lives to also be beautiful.  We need time each year to evaluate the results of the decisions we have made earlier in the year and whether we are on the right track for the future.  This requires reviewing our goals and making sure we are taking steps to meet our top priorities.  It just so happens that many of my divorce mediation clients are at exactly the same place in the mediation process, reviewing their past in order to make choices that create a different future.  Taking steps to resolve conflict in our lives seems to be at the center of our decisions, right now.  When asked to focus on what is really important, most of my clients agree that it is “relationships”.  Relationships with spouses, children, family, neighbors, our entire community.   I just finished a mediation consult with a couple who proudly informed me that the had acquired millions of dollars worth of property throughout their long marriage and wondered if they would have much conflict dividing it all.  I reminded them that mediation is the best way to “divide it all”.  But it wasn’t until I mentioned their ability to get along affecting whether or not they could both visit their grandchildren at the same time that tears welled up in both client’s eyes.  Clearly, what was most important to them was their ability to maintain a relationship...

When “Marriage Counseling” Turns into “Divorce Counseling”

It’s no secret that not all couples undergoing marriage counseling are successful.  Sometimes divorce is inevitable.  However, when a mental health professional sees that “marriage counseling” is turning into “divorce counseling,” they do not have to end their relationship with the couple and send them off to divorce attorneys.  The counselor is a wonderful resource who can provide continuity of treatment while the couple goes through the legal process of divorce.  This concept is called “Team Mediation,” and professionals in the St. Louis area have begun using this process with great success. Team Mediation can begin in the mental health professional’s office.  Once the mental health expert has identified that divorce is indeed unavoidable, he or she can recommend that the couple hire a “team” to help them through the divorce process.  This team consists of a mental health professional, an attorney/mediator and a certified financial planner. The couple meets with the attorney/mediator to devise a plan for living apart and to draft the required legal documents.  The attorney, in the role of mediator, uses mediation skills to help the couple settle their divorce issues in a cooperative manner.  The desired result is to reach an agreement without having to go to court. Obviously, the certified financial planner is extremely important in helping the couple obtain a clear picture of their financial situation, which in turn, sets up parameters for discussion about maintenance, child support and the future cash flow needs of the parties.  The certified financial planner can also undertake the difficult job of valuing retirement accounts and pensions along with determining the true value of the parties’...