Eat, Drink & Remarry: How to Get a Divorce Worth Celebrating

I was watching the news recently when a segment came on about a California couple who co-hosted a Divorce Party. Now this had my attention! A divorce party hosted jointly by the people getting divorced?! The former spouse has definitely not attended the divorce parties I have heard about.

The couple had been married for 24 years and had fallen out of love. The party was not a celebration of the divorce but for the way they did it. Their shared goal was to keep the family as much intact as possible and to remember that their kids are most important, not their stuff.

These parents understood that how they moved forward in their separation was critical to everyone’s well-being. It is important for all couples that come to an end to be aware that the decisions made today have immediate and future impacts, intended or otherwise. Separating parents benefit from thinking about what kind of legacy they want to leave for their children and future grandchildren.

Will the focus be on both parents making decisions together on how to reorganize their family or more about who is right and winning?

One of these approaches is more likely to lead to shared extended family celebrations. The other may lead your kids to eating turkey dinner four nights in a row or worse: picking sides. There are circumstances when collaboration and shared decision-making are not possible, but in most cases they are. You don’t even need to particularly like the other person, but you do need to respect each other as parents.

Family mediation can help to bring this kind of intention or lens to all the decisions that you and your former spouse will need to make about your children and your finances. It also provides an opportunity to work together on making all of these decisions. Mediators do not provide advice on what each spouse should do, but rather they help explore options and provide information and resources so that the parties themselves can make informed decisions. The families control the outcome and the mediator manages the process.

When both parents avoid an adversarial process their stress is reduced and their children are the beneficiaries. A family that functions well and has simply been re-organized is the kind of legacy most parents want – the party is just an added bonus!

Amy Robertson, Mediator www.victoriamediation.com
Amy Robertson

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Family and Civil Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Family and Workplace mediation practice and she is a Facilitator of the Parenting After Separation Finances Course – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

5 Ways to Wrap Up Conflict for the Holidays

Do holiday family gatherings cause you stress and anxiety? You are not alone.

What happens when we suddenly have all this compressed family time? For many families, it’s conflict. The gentle teasing goes a little too far. Old hurts, compounded by time and other issues that were never really resolved, are brought screaming to the surface. It does not have to be this way.

The Gift of Mediation - Amy RobertsonLast December a parent gave their family members the gift of mediation. An adult child had so much hurt built up with another family member they could no longer communicate or be in a room together.  The gift was an opportunity for them to work through their issues privately with a neutral person to see if they could find resolutions that would work for them.

I was asked if I would mediate between the family members in an effort to repair the relationship for a Christmas celebration where everyone would once again feel comfortable attending – or even consider attending! Everyone agreed to the terms of our work and progress was made. New boundaries were established and a plan with a timeline was agreed to in an effort to get things back on track.

As a mediator, here are my five tips to help families share information, understand different perspectives and hopefully get back on track:

1. Determine 3 things you each want the other person to hear.

Take turns without interrupting and really listen to each other. Anticipate hearing something you do not agree with and be prepared to focus on what they are saying anyway without reacting.

2. Keep an open mind and be curious.

Try to understand what is important to the other person and how they feel. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Try to avoid questions that include “why” as they can be perceived as judgmental or challenging. A simple option is to say “tell me more about this.”

3. Talk about the impact.

By focusing on the impact of the conflict or circumstance on you or someone you love, you will be less likely to trigger defensiveness in the other person.

4. Acknowledge that there is more than one solution.

Be flexible and think of at least two ideas or suggestions to move things forward.

5. Focus on the positive.

If you cannot agree on what has happened in the past, shift your focus to what you can both agree on to go forward.

If both people follow what they agree to (which is more likely when they create the terms together), it can do a lot to repair a relationship and rebuild trust over time.

All relationships have their challenges and it is common to find conflict in an important long-term relationship. How you choose to handle the conflict going forward is what really counts.
How you choose to handle the conflict going forward is what really counts. #relationships Click To Tweet

If you are unable to manage the conflict on your own, mediators can be an important part of moving things forward in a positive and constructive way. The dialogue may be intense, so some people like the idea of having someone impartial to both prepare and guide them through these tough conversations. Mediators help families resolve some or all of their issues in over 90% of cases[1].

November 19 to 26th was proclaimed Conflict Resolution Week in BC[2]. Following that lead, let’s seize the opportunity to improve our relationships and cherish the holiday season with our families. After all, do we really need more stuff?

Amy Robertson, Mediator www.victoriamediation.com
Amy Robertson

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Family and Civil Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Family and Workplace mediation practice and she is a Facilitator of the Parenting After Separation Finances Course – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

 

 

[1] Mediate BC 2015 Business of Mediation Survey

[2] http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/ConflictResolWk2016

Unbundling Toolkit v1.0 Now Available!

We have reached two important milestones in the unbundled legal services adventure (in partnership with Access to Justice BC):

  • Publication of a Toolkit for Lawyers and Paralegals (version 1.0); and
  • An invitation to receive more information about the BC Family Unbundling Roster

The Toolkit version 1.0

Toolbox by Florian RichterDuring the surveys and interviews with family lawyers and paralegals, we heard time and time again that lawyers are interested in providing unbundled legal services to families but need a more structured approach to integrating unbundled services into their practice. They wanted simple, concrete tools, best practice guidelines, how to guides and, in particular, templates.

We are extremely pleased to advise that, as part of a partnership with Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC), version 1.0 of the Toolkit for Lawyers and Paralegals has now been posted! We are extremely grateful to CLBC for their expert and timely assistance.

Here is the index of materials in the Toolkit:

  1. An introduction about how to use the Toolkit
  2. Law Society of BC Code of Conduct Rules
  3. Best Practices for Unbundling
  4. Unbundling FAQs for Lawyers
  5. List of Resources
  6. How to use the retainer letter templates
  7. Retainer letter: One-time consultation
  8. Retainer letter: Ongoing consultation
  9. Schedule A – full list
  10. Schedule A – example of drafting documents
  11. Schedule A – example of coaching for mediation
  12. Flowchart for Lawyers
  13. Flowchart for Clients
  14. Client Intake for Unbundling

This is version 1.0 because we are still working on enhancing the existing materials and adding new ones. To do this we need your help! Please take a look, try them out and provide us with your feedback.

The BC Family Unbundling Roster

BC family lawyers, family mediators and, in particular, the public, told us that they did not know how to find lawyers willing to provide unbundled legal services.  Many suggested a free public-facing list or roster that was hosted in a central place.

We are excited to announce that we are working with the CLBC to create such a roster which will reside on the Clicklaw site – easily accessible to the public and the legal community. The roster itself is under construction but, in the meantime, we invite you to click here to indicate your interest in this important tool. We will let you know as soon as the application form is ready.

As an added bonus, you have the option of agreeing to have your name and contact information shared with, and included in, a Canadian national database of lawyers providing unbundled legal services of all types. This national database is published by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project led by Dr. Julie Macfarlane. Inclusion in this database will give you and your firm national exposure to families seeking unbundled legal services for BC-related matters.

Unbundling and the national database were recently showcased in a NSRLP video featuring BC’s Chief Justice Bauman. In addition, we recommend that you read Chief Justice Bauman’s newest blog post on unbundling.

Please let us know if you have questions or need more information about this exciting initiative.

Kari D. Boyle
Project Manager, BC Family Unbundled Legal Services Project
Mediate BC

UPDATE: The BC Family Unbundling Roster is now live!

Image Credit: Florian Richter | Flickr cc