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Divorce Mediation Blog

  • Divorce Communication

    By Sabrina R. Bohun, Mediator

    During a recent observation of a divorce mediation, I witnessed a perceptive attorney raise an interesting point relative to how the parties were communicating.  The attorney (representing the wife) was doing an excellent job trying to explain court rules and procedures to both parties in an effort to work towards an agreement on the issues at hand. 

    The mediation had been in session for a while.  Some progress on the issues had been made, but not a lot.  The wife’s attorney says to husband “You know, we’ve been here more than an hour and I haven’t seen you look at [your wife] once.  How do you expect to work on communication about [the children] if you can’t even make eye contact with her?’”   What happened next was insightful.

    I saw both parties shift in their...

  • My first takeaway from observing a divorce mediation was perhaps the most obvious takeaway: divorce is HARD. With so many legal frameworks for the process and so many components of life that had become intertwined over the years, I was shocked that the parties spent almost no time arguing over frequent flyer miles.

    Wedding Crashers MediateInstead, the parties had to build a structured plan for how to separate each component of their lives, from health insurance to legal and physical custody of their children to paying back student loans. This, then, is the role of the MWI divorce mediator: to encourage the parties to begin thinking productively and realistically about how to move forward. Distinct from other mediations that I have observed and mediated, divorce mediation requires the mediator to walk an even finer line between ensuring informed consent and...

  • divorced girl

    Jackie Pilossoph’s story rings true for many couples facing divorce: After facing the end of her marriage with two young children, Jackie took over a year to finalize her divorce during the times that seemed to be, in her words, the “most dark and dreary” of times. In less than six years since her divorce, though, Jackie is now the author of two websites (www.divorcedgirlsmiling.com and www.divorcedguygrinning.com) and three books (Free Gift with Purchase, Jackpot!, and Hook, Line and Sink Him) alongside her newest novel, Divorced Girl Smiling. She has regular columns on The Huffington Post, and the Sun-Times Media Local. And most of her work now focuses on divorce.

    In addition to fictional work...

MWI Mediation Training Blog

  • divorce mediation skillsOne of the best parts about leading mediation trainings is hearing from past trainees about how the training program has helped them.  Recently we received the following unsolicited email:

    (Some information has been changed to protect client confidentiality)

    "Hi Josh,

    This is just a happy FYI...

    Last evening, I was working with this lovely young couple in my outpatient office. They were quite distressed with each other, sounding as if their disagreement were 'intractable.'

    So then I had this thought..."hey!" thought I, "why don't I wise up and use my divorce mediation skills?" (duh)

    (now, to be fair, I have used much if not all that I learned from both my initial MWI training and your specific divorce mediation courses, on a pretty regular basis: but this was a more clear and intentional sort of thing, with an immediate and happy "ending")

    Husband and wife had spent a long weekend together,...

  • By Katie Hyten, MWI Mediator

    Help me help you

    I participated in the MWI Mediation Training with about twenty other students at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in January 2013. Two days into the training, the ever-patient trainers gave us an opportunity to ask any questions still lingering after the first weekend. I imagine they regretted this very quickly. To their dismay, our trainers had to spend no less than half an hour responding to the same question. It turns out, all twenty of us entered the training firmly believing we were there to solve the conflict for the parties. We asked question after question that reiterated: “But what if I know the best agreement? Can’t I simply tell the parties what to do?”

    Over the next half hour, our trainers asked us to consider the idea that, as mediators, we can never know the...

  • By Chuck Doran and Katie Hyten, MWI Mediators

    Bibi and Kerry resized 600

    After trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Kerry has been somewhat unceremoniously extricated from the conflict resolution processes. And as Israel pulled back from US mediation efforts in favor of an Egypt-brokered process, Kerry saw his efforts to mediate a settlement fall apart for the second time in as many years. Egyptian-brokered ceasefires have remained largely intact, while Kerry’s involvement has been universally berated.

    Barak Ravid at Haaretz declared: “If Kerry did anything on Friday it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Instead of promoting a cease-fire, Kerry pushed it away.” Avi Issacharoff at The Times of Israel noted: “Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were all in agreement that Kerry’s efforts were...

MWI Negotiation Excellence Blog

  • By Chuck Doran and Katie Hyten, MWI Mediators

    If asked which part of a company handles negotiations, most people would automatically turn to the HR division. For many, negotiation in the workplace occurs in two major areas: contract or salary negotiations and workplace disputes. And neither of those are particularly positive experiences.  But in 2011, the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC) recognized “tectonic shifts in business management and procurement” with enormous ramifications for the use of negotiation tools in broader areas of the workplace. At a Thought Leaders Forum held in Toronto, participants realized that “it is no longer acceptable practice to simply be good at the job and expect that the rest of the organization will respect and understand.” As the very nature of positions and roles within corporations change, professionals in every field are beginning to recognize that the failure to set up new, effective processes of...

  • By Katie Hyten, MWI Mediator

    Sherlock Quote resized 600Ezra Klein recently jumpstarted his online news project, Vox, with a self-authored article entitled, "How politics makes us stupid." In this article, Klein cites somewhat counterintuitive research that indicates the more information partisan voters receive, the more entrenched they become in their beliefs – even if the information provided debunks those beliefs. According to research by Yale Law Professor Dan Kahan and co-authors, when asked questions that may threaten our group’s identity, we instinctively answer in a way that rationalizes our group’s reasoning. He calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: people tend to care more about defending their group’s inherent right-ness than about finding the truth.  Fighting to win

    This idea of Identity-Protection Cognition echoes observations of cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber: “skilled arguers…are not after the truth but after arguments...

  • By Chuck Doran and Carl Kjellman

    Tunisian Flag

    In December 2010, Mohammed Buoazizi, a vegetable salesman, set himself ablaze in the streets of Tunis to protest the autocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This act ignited a revolution that ousted Ben Ali – who had ruled the country since 1987 – in early 2011. The revolution culminat ed in the ratification of a new Tunisian constitution on January 26, 2014.

    This story is noteworthy to people with an interest in negotiation because it demonstrates an important principle of collaborative negotiation: trading across value. By supporting each other's non-competing legislative agendas, different factions in the national assembly were able to build a coalition large enough to overcome the positional divides in the interim government and accomplish a greater goal of larger value than any individual interest at stake in the assembly: writing and ratifying a groundbreaking...

Bankruptcy Finance ADR Blog

  • confidentiality

    By Eric Haber, MWI Bankruptcy & Finance ADR Panel Member and Romina Redondo, MWI Staff

    At the start of every mediation, I tell the parties that I have two simple rules.  The first is that the mediation is a confidential settlement conference. The second is that I will file a public, one-line report stating whether or not the case settles and I will not speak with the judge about the mediation. The goal of these statements is twofold: to help parties feel comfortable speaking freely and confidentially during the mediation process and to remind them that in bankruptcy mediation, confidentiality matters.

    Rules on confidentiality vary at the state and federal levels; only 12 states have adopted the Uniform Mediation Act (UMA) drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.[1] At the federal level, there are ADR...

  • bankruptcy mediation, bankruptcy adr

    By Frank Conrad, MWI Bankruptcy & Finance ADR Panel Member and Rachael Diament, MWI Staff

    Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Drain of the Southern District of New York ordered the unsecured creditors of the inoperative hedge fund manager Bayou Group LLC and Goldman Sachs Execution & Clearing LP into mediation regarding a sum of $20.7 million that has been in dispute for five years.

    In 1996, Bayou Fund was set up by Sam Israel, Daniel Marino, and James Marquez as a Ponzi scheme that attracted over $450 million from investors. In 2005, Bayou Group voluntarily liquidated and promised 100 percent returns to its investors. To remain operational, the company paid redemption requests with investments from other investors, rather than from profits. On May 30, 2006, Bayou Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and later filed 120 adversary proceedings that continued through 2008.

    In...

  • HOSTESS SHUTDOWN 28341157 resized 600

    by Rachael Diament, MWI Staff

    Twinkies will be returning to store shelves July 15, 2013. Earlier this year, Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a Bakery Workers Union strike that could not be resolved. The company claims to have been struggling under higher pensions and medical bills than its competitors due to its unionized workers. At the same time, Hostess employees claim mismanagement and executive hesitation to invest in new brands following changes in consumer tastes crippled the company. Hostess and the unionized workers failed to reach a settlement through negotiation and the bankruptcy mediation process.

    In the absence of a bankruptcy settlement, 18,500 employees lost their jobs due to the subsequent liquidation. In response to the liquidation announcement, Hostess snacks were put on rush order and the remaining products sold out within a few...

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