Agenda

Day 1

 

01:00 - 01:15:  Course overview and introductions.

 

01:15 - 01:45:   What divorce mediation is and what divorce mediators do.

 

Participants identify the skill sets they possess in their fields of practice/specialty that enable them to assist divorcing spouses in resolving issues presented in the legal process of divorce with a focus on minimizing hostility along the path of ending a marriage relationship. The significance of existing practice wisdom is highlighted in the provision of divorce mediation services.

 

01:45 - 02:15  Understanding the Distinction between the Litigation Process and the Mediation Process in Divorce Proceedings

 

Participants gain an understanding of where litigation and mediation intersect and diverge so they can better understand the optional paths their clients may travel when they are unable to reach conciliation and accord through mediation sessions. 

 

02:15 - 02:40   Distinguishing mediation and other forms of conflict resolution, including arbitration and the collaborative approach to divorce. Ethical questions regarding representing a party as both lawyer and mediation advocate.

 

Participants receive basic instruction on common forms of conflict resolution besides mediation for the purpose of understanding the broad spectrum of amicable and peaceful options available to parties in dispute. The core strength of self-determination in these alternative processes is discussed.

 

02:40 - 03:15   When mediation is not appropriate, including group exercise on bias and ethical dilemmas.

 

Domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and/or neglect, imbalance of power and other circumstances are discussed and identified for purposes of screening inappropriate candidates for mediation. Legal reporting obligations are explained.

 

A group exercise considering the identification of bias when mediating acase involving a divorcing couple and available options for handling bias is performed.

                       

Cultural and diversity sensitivity are considered in the context of divorce mediation.

 

03:15 - 03:30   Afternoon Break

 

03:30 - 03:45   Introduction of the divorce mediation process to divorcing spouses

 

Participants learn how to introduce the topic and process of divorce mediation to clients. They also learn how to communicate the potential for, and significance of, self-determinism in the divorce mediation process to clients.

 

03:45 - 04:00   The Mediation Contract – Review and Execution

 

Participants learn how to present and explain a Contract for Mediation Services to clients in a manner that not only communicates the requirements set forth in the document in a clear manner but also explains the responsibilities associated with self-determinism in the agreements and disclosures clients will make when working through the divorce decision-making process.

 

04:00 - 04:15   The Psychological Stages of Divorce

 

Participants learn the five psychological stages of divorce and learn the significance of these stages when meeting with clients in mediation sessions.

 

04:15 - 05:30   Role-play Exercise - Introducing Divorce Mediation and the Mediation Contract to Clients

 

Participants engage in an exercise that enables them to process the information they have learned so far in the program by meeting in small groups of three or four people. Each participant has an opportunity to act as a mediator who explains the process of mediation and the Contract for Mediation Services to clients.

 

05:30 - 06:00   End of Day Q&A

 

06:00 - Dismissal

 

Day 2

 

08:30 - 08:45:  Review of results from the Day 1 role-play exercise

 

Participants discuss the results of the previous day's role-play exercise and preview the day ahead.

 

08:45 - 09:15:  Three principals that guide successful mediators in helping clients reach agreement on the issues that need to be resolved in divorce.

 

The concepts of “fair and equitable”, “enforceable agreements” and “best interests of children” are considered in the context of mediation sessions.

 

09:15 - 10:30   Issues pertaining to children in divorce – What are they? How are they resolved? Understanding and creating a parenting plan.

 

Issues involving children in divorce are discussed in detail. The meanings, significance, and considerations relevant to legal child custody, physical custody and parenting time are discussed.

 

10:30 - 10:45:  Morning Break

 

10:45 - 11:30   Children’s issues continued

 

Participants learn how to construct a parenting plan with a view toward the best interest of the children of the family. Focus on ethical guidance through the decision making process is discussed.

 

11:30 - 12:30   The Marital Estate – what is it? Marital Property vs. Non-marital property. Using experts to resolve disputes.

 

Participants begin to learn about the issues that divorcing spouses need to address in the process of divorcing, which are not related to their children. Participants gain a complete understanding of what they need to help families work through in order to reach accord so that an uncontested divorce may be obtained by the clients.

 

This segment introduces and defines the clients’ “marital estate” and begins consideration of how to reach agreement in dividing it. The benefits and choices to use legal and financial experts to assist clients in decision making, as necessary, is introduced.   

 

12:30 - 01:30  Lunch break

 

01:30 - 02:15   Property Division – keeping (excessive) emotion out of the discussion

 

Participants learn to focus their clients on what is in the best interest of each and both as they continue critical thinking and reaching an amicable agreement on dividing property in the process of divorce. Consideration of how much emotion is helpful before it becomes harmful is considered. Techniques for minimizing, avoiding and breaking impasse are taught. Focus on ethical guidance through the decision making process

 

02:15 - 03:00   Insurance and retirement issues in divorce.

 

Insurance issues of relevance to divorcing spouses are taught. The nature and types of retirement plans subject to division in divorce are discussed and the options and costs available to spouses in making such divisions is presented.

 

03:00 - 03:15   Afternoon Break

 

03:15 - 04:00   Debt, tax and miscellaneous issues in divorce

 

Participants learn about these issues, as they pertain to divorce, in order to assist their clients in completely and fairly addressing them in a manner in which both can agree is fair and equitable.

 

04:00 - 05:30   Role Play Exercise - Case #1

 

Participants role-play their first divorce mediation case.

 

05:30 - 06:00   End of Day Q&A

 

06:00 - Dismissal and homework.

 

Participants must perform a homework assignment using all of the information learned in Day 2. This is a program requirement.      

 

Day 3

 

08:30 - 09:00:   Review of results from the Day 2 role-play exercise and the related homework assignment.

 

Participants discuss the results of the previous day's role-play exercise and homework assignment and preview the day ahead.

 

09:00 - 09:30   Writing divorce mediation agreements – the Memorandum of Understanding – its construction and purpose

 

Participants are instructed on how to prepare a well written agreement for at the conclusion of a divorce mediation case. Each component of the agreement is introduced and reviewed.

 

09:30 - 09:45:  Distinguishing the Memorandum of Understanding from other forms of mediation agreements.

 

Participants learn about other forms of divorce agreements in order to become well versed in the broader spectrum of what other divorce professionals sometimes prepare.


09:45 - 10:00  Group exercise – listening skills and relevant fact-finding

 

Participants engage in an interactive, lively class exercise that involves review and consideration of a case that poses a significant challenge to their listening skills, critical thinking skills, legal reporting obligations and cultural sensitivity. It also tests their knowledge of concepts already introduced in the program.

 

12:00 - 01:00   Lunch break

 

01:00 - 03:30   Small group project – Case Role Play

 

Participants role-play their second divorce mediation case, in which a second third of the participants conduct a divorce mediation session, which is more complex than the first.

 

03:30 - 05:30   Individual writing assignment – Memorandum of Understanding

 

Participants put the results obtained in their small group project into a written Memorandum of Understanding. The writing of the Memorandum is an individual exercise and participants spend a varying number of hours (between two and four hours) in creating this document.

 

10:30 - 10:45:  Morning Break

 

10:45 - 11:30:  Final Role Play Exercise

 

Participants role-play their final divorce mediation case, in which the final third of participants conduct a divorce mediation session. This session is designed to test the creativity and critical thinking skills of participants as well as their ability to assimilate all information learned in the program in an unusual case.


 

05:00 - 05:15   Adding mediation to an existing legal practice

 

Participants are taught to address confidentiality and ethical concerns when adding divorce mediation sessions to an existing practice or in the form of a new mediation-specific practice. Recommendations on how to begin acquiring new cases, including sources of referrals and marketing options for mediators is presented.

           

05:15 - 5:30     Final Q&A, Evaluations and Dismissal