Why Mediation is a Good Option for Separating Families?

When couples decide to end their marriage and families are forced to separate, it is difficult for everyone. Though it might seem as though the only people are affected are the spouses, the end of a marriage means changes for everyone. Even under the best of circumstances it is a tough transition, but a long, drawn-out court battle makes things even worse.

Luckily, there is an option available that can help families transition from marriage to separation with less stress, less animosity, and less disruption in life. Mediation is a tool that makes ending a marriage as easy as it can possibly be and makes it possible for the family to move forward into a new way of relating to one another.

What makes mediation so perfect for separating families?

Mediation is Built on Communication
One of the most important reasons why mediation works so well when families are separating is because it keeps the lines of communication open. A mediator is a third-party facilitator who is working for both spouses, as opposed to representing one or the other.

A mediator’s goal is to help a separating couple find a solution that both are happy with. The way this is done is by bringing the couple together to explore all potential outcomes and weigh the pros and cons of each outcome. Everyone is encouraged to share his or her concerns and discuss why solutions seem fair or unfair. The mediator oversees these conversations and keeps the process on track.

Mediation tends to cut down on the discussions that go astray and get mired in resentment and ill-intentions. There is a well-defined goal at the beginning of mediation and someone is there to keep the goal on track.

The problem-solving strategies used in mediation can also be useful as a family moves forward into their new way of living. Many couples find that once their separation is finalized and they are forced to co-parent the methods they learned in mediation are an effective way of resolving differences that arise.

Control of the Situation
When decisions about separation and divorce are made in the courtroom the family has very little control over what happens. They might be able to share how they feel, but ultimately it is the court making the final decision.

This is not the case with mediation. The process puts a separating couple in complete control of the process and the outcome. Mediations are not considered successful unless both spouses walk away from the situation satisfied with the arrangement.

Mediation also ensures that children have an opportunity to share how they feel when it is appropriate.

The spirit of self-determination makes the transition from marriage to separation easier on everyone.

Even with all of the benefits, mediation is not perfect. A marriage is still ending and that is never going to be easy. It is also not the right tool for everyone to use, especially if a marriage involved abuse or one party is unwilling to accept the end of the relationship. Assuming mediation could provide a method for helping a family to separate, it is often the best option available.

Juan Pyfrom
Family Mediation

Unique Challenges in the Health Care Industry and How Mediation Can Resolve Conflict

Unresolved conflict in the health care setting can lead to significant challenges in this industry. Being aware of these challenges and alternative forms of dispute resolution like mediation can help.

Conflict in the health care setting can result in significant expenses, both direct and indirect. If the case is litigated, there will be additional legal fees that the health care facility will have to pay. Additionally, unresolved conflict can affect patient satisfaction, occupancy rates, workers’ compensation and disability claims, increased turnover, and decreased employee morale, an increase in clinical errors and a disruption of management time. Negative publicity can further negatively affect the health care setting.

Confidentiality is another concern in the health care setting. The staff may not be able to freely disclose relevant medical information to all interested parties. This may create an additional barrier to resolving conflict. Additionally, the health care setting may have time constraints that impact the ability to wait for litigation to finalize in order to resolve the problem. Additionally, situations involving conflict in the health care setting often involve emotionally charged situations.

Many physicians and nurses do not have significant training in negotiation, conflict resolution skills or communication. The mediation process allows an expert in these skills to help facilitate an agreement. A mediator can work closely with the parties, inform them of misconceptions and help uncover hidden interests to help the parties more agreeable to a cooperative solution. Additionally, mediation addresses many of the challenges involved in the healthcare setting. The parties can agree to keep the proceedings confidential so that there is not negative publicity or an invasion of the patient’s privacy.

Can Traffic Violations Be Mediated?

Due to the widespread benefits of the process, mediation is being used in increasingly more diverse arenas, including in cases involving crimes or traffic citations. Mediation is often turned to when the parties involved do not want to go through the time, expense and effort of litigation, and traffic violations are no exception. Judges and prosecutors want to avoid trials and lengthy court proceedings and may recommend mediation to resolve a traffic dispute.

During mediation, the person who received the violation and a prosecutor or someone with the legal authority to resolve the case meet together with the help of a trained mediator. The parties listen to the mediator’s explanation that the process is confidential and that if they are unable to reach an amicable resolution of the case, they cannot repeat what was said during this process. Each party then states their position and their hopes for a successful outcome. The mediator may then divide the parties and meet with them one-on-one or may talk to both of them in the same room. The mediator points out the strengths and weaknesses of each position and reminds the parties about the possible consequences of not reaching an agreement, such as expensive court costs or a lack of a predictable outcome.

If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, this is written up and signed by the parties. Depending on the situation, the parties may then need to submit this agreement to the judge for approval. The prosecutor may have to take additional action, such as dismissing or modifying the charges.

Possible Ways to Resolve Tax Debt through Mediation

Depositphotos_31199551_xl-2015For many people, tax debt is crippling. When a person gets behind on taxes, it may be difficult for him or her to ever catch up. The mediation process can be used to form a settlement agreement with the IRS, as well as state tax agencies, but the taxpayer must affirmatively request this measure. During mediation, the taxpayer and tax representative may reach a settlement regarding tax debt, such as:

 An Offer in Compromise

 In some situations, you may be able to settle your tax debt for less than you actually owe. The IRS typically only accepts this arrangement if it is unlikely that it will be able to collect the tax debt by traditional enforcement options.  An offer in compromise is a great option for some taxpayers since it reduces the total amount they pay. This option is available through a lump-sum or periodic payment.

Installment Agreement

 An installment agreement with the IRS allows you to make a more affordable payment to the IRS each month until your tax debt is paid off. The IRS may agree to a longer term for taxpayers to repay their debt so that they have a guaranteed payment coming in.

Penalty Abatement

 Typically, if you do not pay and file your taxes by the original deadline, you will be assessed additional penalties. Through mediation, a taxpayer may be able to have these penalties waived through penalty abatement. This relief may be in addition to other forms of relief, such as an installment agreement or offer in compromise.

Innocent Spouse Relief

 In some situations, you may not be required to pay off tax debt such as if your spouse was responsible for the debt. You will have to meet certain guidelines, but this can be an effective way to relieve yourself of at least part of the debt.

Your Complete Guide on Special Education Mediation

Special education mediation is an innovative process in which parents and school district staff work together to resolve an issue related to the special education program.  The mediator serves a vital role in this process as a neutral party who helps facilitate communication between the parties.  He or she guides them toward a mutually satisfactory agreement.

This process is usually commenced before the filing of a due process petition, but it can technically be requested at any point in the process.  The mediator schedules the mediation session at a time that is convenient for both of the parties.  The parties’ schedules are usually the only factor involved in setting the date and time, which is an extreme advantage over litigation in which the parties must often wait months for an available date on the docket.

Mediation can successfully resolve a variety of special education issues, including:

  • Requests for more special education services
  • Placement in specific classes or schools
  • Eligibility for special education services
  • Concerns regarding IEP determinations

During mediation, the mediator will help the parties define their positions, find points of agreement and narrow their issues.  The mediator can also provide a neutral assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s position so that they have a more realistic view on it.  Depending on the parties and the mediator, the parties may be in the same room together and brainstorm possible solutions to their issue.

The mediation process is confidential, so anything said during the process cannot later be repeated during a due process hearing.  If the parties are unable to reach a decision, the parent still has the right to pursue relief through a due process hearing.  If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the parties may enter into a written contract that outlines their mutual decisions.

What is Different About Civil Rights Mediation?

When a party believes that his or her civil rights have been violated, such as through police misconduct, discrimination in the workplace or violations of fair housing laws, he or she may have the option of mediating rather than litigating the claim.  This process has many key differences to litigation.

Mediation is a voluntary process.  It does not happen unless both parties agree to it.  However, the parties do not waive their statutory rights simply by agreeing to mediation.  If the parties are unable to reach an amicable solution during mediation, they can proceed with their case through litigation.  Any time that they use to try to resolve the case through mediation usually tolls the statute of limitations and other deadlines since courts want to encourage parties to reach settlements out of court when possible.

The process is non-adversarial, meaning that the parties work together to resolve mutual goals.  In litigation, the parties are inherently adversaries.  Also, the parties are not restricted to the remedies available in court.  Possible solutions may include reinstatement, a reference letter, an apology, clarification on applicable policies, changes in policies, monetary awards or myriad other solutions that the parties agree to.

The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, working through problems together and exploring different options for possible settlement.  The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parties, not to impose a decision on them.

If the parties reach an agreement, they enter into a written contract, which includes a full provision that says that the complaint is being withdrawn and that the agreement is a final settlement of all charges.

Maritime Law: What You Need to Know about Maritime Mediation

Disputes on international waters usually lead to maritime law legal issues. . Rather than progressing through the confusing and complicated laws of an outdated system, the two parties can use a neutral professional to help settle the matter amicably without the need to litigate. While the maritime mediator has no power to decide what outcome the case has, he or she can help settle the dispute through listening and providing a sounding board. The mediator relies on knowledge and experience to help find creative solutions to difficult problems.

The Maritime Mediator’s Role

The mediator is the administrator of this process, and he will ensure that the procedure moves properly with the agreed rules. The professional will coordinate matters and keep the case progressing. The mediation is prompt and fair. It provides an efficient way for the parties to resolve their dispute.  At the beginning of mediation, the mediator will explain the rules. The parties will then usually split up and the mediator will take turns listening to each party, during which time he or she will remain. The mediator will let both sides unbiased and objective. By looking for an overlap in the parties’ interests, the mediator can assist the parties in reaching a settlement that is agreeable to both of them.

Advantages of Using Maritime Mediation

Maritime law usually applies when in international waters or over 25 miles from the shore. The mediation process can provide the means to reduce stress when there is a legal dispute and help the two parties create an open dialogue. A primary benefit is the significant reduction in cost over litigation. Additionally, there is a significant decrease in the time it takes to resolve the matter. Mediation is usually more flexible and less formal than litigation. The mediator can explain how maritime law works and why this process can bypass the more outdated rules that would govern the case.