Thinking about "Collaborative Practices" for Mediators

 Fall is a beautiful time to visit the Shenandoah Valley--even for a workshop!

Fall is a beautiful time to visit the Shenandoah Valley--even for a workshop!

This week I've been working with Marshall Yoder to prepare for a workshop where we will share our experience with mediators throughout the region.  The conference is scheduled for October 9, 2018, in Front Royal, Virginia. Front Royal is a wonderful town to visit in October, the location of the start of the Skyline Drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Our session, "What Every Mediator Should Know About (and can learn from) Collaborative Practice.”  has been approved by the Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia for one continuing education credit for mediators.  The session is part of a full day seminar offered by Mediation Training Coalition, L.L.C. titled, “Mediating Family Cases: Five Workshops.” Other professionals who will be leading workshops include Peter W. Buchbauer, J.D.  Lisa Herrick, Ph.D., Jeannette Twomey, and Danny Burk, J.D. During our interactive workshop, we will invite participants to share their experiences in mediation and explore how mediators, like collaborative professionals, work to create deep, durable parenting agreements for families who are divorcing. We will examine factors that a family might consider when deciding between mediation and collaborative law in a divorce.  

 Marshall is a Harrisonburg attorney with experience as a collaborative attorney and a mediator.

Marshall is a Harrisonburg attorney with experience as a collaborative attorney and a mediator.

Both mediation and collaborative divorce provide good options for many families confronting divorce.  When I first began practicing law, when a couple decided to divorce, one would hire a lawyer and file a complaint.  The sheriff would serve it on the other party and then the negotiations would start. The parties were positioned as adversaries and were not working together to create the best outcome.  Fortunately, couples have two other options today: collaborative divorce and mediation.  Collaborative divorce is a specific process during which the parties retain specially trained attorneys who work with the parties, and other professionals, to develop a mutually beneficial property settlement agreement and parenting plan. 

 Like collaborative practice, mediation leaves the decision making with the parties.  In mediation, the parties may have lawyers, or they may also be proceeding pro se.  Mediation does not typically include the experts, such as financial neutrals, that collaborative divorce often includes. Additionally, in a collaborative divorce, the parties must agree to reach a decision before the court is involved.  Mediation may be used in any stage of divorce litigation.

Both Marshall and I have practiced law for over thirty years and are graduates of Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peace.  We are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  For more information, please contact me.  (There is no website for the event.)