NEWS: 18 Things You Can’t Get in Court by Lorne Wolfson

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The Lawyers Weekly

Eighteen Things You Can’t Get in Court

by Lorne Wolfson

[Article in Full Below]

“Skilled family mediators and negotiators will emphasize to parties the things they can obtain in a settlement, but not from a court.”

Here are 18 of them:

1. Confidentiality

The courts are very reluctant to order the sealing of a court file. Since a reported decision may attract the attention of creditors, Canada Revenue Agency, Children’s Aide, the police, professional discipline bodies, business competitors, even the media, confidentiality can be important to many spouses.

2. Non-variability of support

[Read more…]

Book Review: Mom’s House, Dad’s House, Making Two Homes for Your Child

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By Guest Blogger: Melissa, separated parent of 3 children.

This book is a must-read guide for parents who are separated, divorced, or re-partnered. Author Isolina Riccci charts a constructive course for divorcing parents how to navigate the new landscape of two homes for their children.

This book will help you build this new family life, two homes with no fighting. The book encourages parents to start with the basic premise that: “Children Love, Want, and Need Both Parents.” Both parents are the core of their child’s life regardless of “custody” or “access” or percentages of time.

The Family Bill of Rights developed by Ms. Ricci is central to the book:

The Family Bill of Rights

• Each child has the right to have two homes where he or she is cherished and given the opportunity to develop normally
• Each child has the right to a meaningful, nurturing relationship with each parent
• Each parent and child has the right to call themselves a family regardless of how the children’s time is divided.
• Each parent has the responsibility and right to contribute to the raising of his or her child
• Each child has the right to have competent parents and be free from hearing, observing, or being part of their parents’ arguments or problems with one another.
• Each parent has the right to his or her own private life and territory and to raise the children without unreasonable interference from the other parent.

As a separated parent, I can say that this book changed how I did everything once I was separated. When we were first separated I was upset with how the kids’ dad did things in his house, from clothing, to food, to bedtimes. This book changed all of that and really brought home to me what was really important: Our kids, their hearts, and their need to love both of us. The book had real scenarios of how to handle the many changes at separation and new ways for me to speak to their dad so I was heard.

The book also helped me let go of the details of how the children’s with their time with their dad is spent. It helped me shift to thinking about: Were they loved and did they have fun? It helped me realize that it didn’t matter whether they more TV than they would at my house, jumped on the trampoline longer than I thought they should, or ate different things than I would serve them. What was important was: Were they safe? Did they have fun? Were they loved?

This is a must read for all parents who are no longer together where their kids spend time with both of them. The book has 20 amazing chapters covering topics such as:

– Watch Your Language: Words that Help or Hurt
– Mom’s House, Dads’s House: How to Make Them Homes
– Your Children: Giving Them Security and Continuity
– Moving On: Bottlenecks and Breakthroughs

The book is is an invaluable guide with practical and applicable real life advice to keep the primary parent focus on children’s hearts, health, and well-being.

Author Isolina Ricci also has a companion book that we also highly recommend: “Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids”. This book is intended for your children to read to help them understand the changes that come with separation, and gives them real life scenarios to relate to and practical advice on how to cope with all this change. As Ms. Ricci says on page 1: “This book is how to stay strong, feel better, and succeed in life when your parents separate, divorce, or get married again.”

New Ways Program for Separating Couples

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Bluewater Mediation is pleased to share information about ‘New Ways for Families’ (‘New Ways’), a very helpful program available to separating couples who are about to start mediation.

The focus of the program is to prepare separating couples to make their own decisions for their families in the most effective way possible. Each participant works with their own New Ways coach for two to three one-hour sessions, separate from the other participant. This is not therapy, but focused on how to make your mediation work for you.

With New Ways, parents learn how to make the most of their mediation. They learn negotiation skills such as how to make an effective proposal; how to respond well to a proposal; and how to stay calm and focused even if things become difficult. New Ways keeps your mediation on track so you get a resolution faster and with less conflict.

Mediation is a new process for many people, and one that can be challenging. Getting prepared through the skills-training offered by New Ways can make parents feel more confident in the mediation process, and more in control of the decisions that affect their lives and their children’s lives.

Bluewater encourages you to consider taking the New Ways program before your family mediation.

For further information, please feel free to contact:
Louise Vandenbosch 519.859.4057 or Tracey Lipp 519.619.4505.
http://www.newways4families.com

What Does “Accredited Family Mediator” Mean?

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You may be wondering what “Accredited Family Mediator” means and why accreditation matters to you.

When you hire an accredited mediator, you have assurance that your mediator has been trained in mediation theory and practice. They also have completed a lengthy and supervised internship with a senior and experienced mediator. You know that he or she is bound by Standards of Practice and ethical requirements. And, you can expect that your mediator continues to upgrade his or her skills and knowledge each and every year. In short, you have assurance of high standards and ethical practice.

At Bluewater Mediation, all mediators are accredited by the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM). This is an important assurance of quality and integrity of service, indicating that your lawyer cares about delivering quality mediation, to meet the needs of you and your family.

Can We Mediate Without Being in the Same Room?

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Yes. Mediation is a highly adaptable process. Sometimes people are in the same room through the process; sometimes people are not in the same room at all. More often it is a combination of these two possibilities.
 
If there is a high level of conflict, or other reasons why you do not wish to be in the same room as your former spouse, the process can be what is called a “shuttle mediation”. In shuttle mediation, each of you is in a different room throughout the mediation, and the mediator “shuttles” back and forth between rooms (hence the name). Shuttle mediation can still be very productive and is just as likely to result in a settlement.
 
Shuttle mediation is more common where you attend mediation with your lawyer (rather than on your own). However, shuttle mediation can also be done without lawyers.
 
If you don’t wish to be in the same room during mediation, talk to your mediator about it during your intake meeting. She will design a process that will work for you and your former spouse, respecting your concerns.
 

NEWS: How to be a Better Parent by Erin Silver of the Globe and Mail

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2015.April.16.

The Globe and Mail

How To Be a Better Parent

by Erin Silver

Excerpt from article:

“Ari’s sixth birthday party was perfect. Despite a late winter snowstorm, all his little friends made it to an indoor baseball stadium to play ball. There were baseball plates and balloons and a chocolate cake iced with green grass and miniature baseball characters running the bases. There were even ring pops – World Series rings – that turned all the kids’ smiles blue and red, my boys, Ari and his four-year-old brother, Josh, included.

Although it was a great day for my kids, I nearly had a panic attack before the party began. This was the first time since my divorce from their father, Shawn, that we held a party that included not just me and Shawn but also Shawn’s girlfriend and my boyfriend and his daughter. We made a strange extended family. It would be awkward, but we were determined to show that we were somehow, in some way, still a family. We wanted our kids to know that divorce didn’t have to be a dirty word.

That party couldn’t have happened had it not been for one significant process: mediation.

Although our divorce was nearing completion, we realized that if we wanted to parent as a unit over the long haul, we needed help learning to work together.

When we separated nearly three years ago, it felt like an apocalypse. We fought constantly. Days would go by when we didn’t speak; it was too painful to hear his voice. During stressful times and legal proceedings, our hatred for each other was palpable. For weeks, we avoided eye contact at pickups and dropoffs – we literally couldn’t stand the sight of one another.

Yet, our kids bound us together for life, even if our vows didn’t. We had intended to teach our children to ride their bikes in front of our home, but after we split, our goal changed. We had to learn to get along well enough to walk our boys down the aisle at their weddings.”

Excerpt from article:

“Raising kids really is a job for two people – at least – and I was resentful that I had to suddenly juggle bills and house repairs and a job and kids and dating all at once. My life had been turned upside down.

But if there was one thing we could agree on when we were too angry to agree on anything, it was that we needed help. Several months ago, we met with Stella Kavoukian, a mediator and therapist who works with children and adults experiencing a variety of issues, including separation and divorce. Our hope was to have her help us resolve disputes and improve our communication.

We had a stack of issues to sort through. There were feelings of aggravation and mistrust after we legally ended our marriage. We had said a rash of unkind things to one another that we couldn’t take back. We struggled with the concept of having to raise kids together when it felt like we no longer even knew one another.

Seeing a mediator was an emotional process, but we weren’t capable of figuring out how to do this divorce thing right on our own. Before our first joint session, we each met with her separately to explain our concerns. At our first appointment together, Kavoukian laid down the ground rules, giving each of us a chance to speak and explain our perspective before the other could jump in. It was hard, at times, to keep us both in line, but no matter how many tissues we used, we were determined to see each session through to the end.”

Excerpt from article:

“Divorce is difficult and painful,” Kavoukian said in an interview. “Regardless of who initiated the separation, it’s a huge loss for each parent, as well as their children. Similar to when one loses a close friend or family member, there is much grieving involved. There is also usually quite a bit of apprehension, if not fear, regarding the future.”

It’s hard to cope – and to co-parent well – when you’re balancing these feelings with meeting your children’s needs. Kids do as well as their parents do,” Kavoukian said. “We are their role models. The better that parents are able to communicate and resolve issues, the better their kids will be able to manage their own relationships throughout life.”

Excerpt from article:

“Today, we function more like business partners than friends, but we have added a few nice touches. We take the kids to buy one another gifts for our birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We sort out holidays easily enough so that our kids can spend vacation time with each of us. We trick or treat together every Halloween; neither of us can bear the thought of missing out simply because it’s “not our day.” We send one another photos of the kids, so that neither of us is excluded even from the parts of their lives that we are technically missing. And a few times a year, we sit side by side, or with a chair in between us, through their hockey games and school holiday concerts, waving to our boys.

All this constant communication and compromise, all this thoughtfulness, makes us more functional in divorce than we were in marriage.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: How to Be a Better Divorced Parent by Erin Silver, The Globe and Mail.

Can the Mediator Interview our Children to Find out What They Want? Can the Children Attend Mediation?

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At Bluewater, usually children are not brought into the mediation process, at least not directly, whether through an interview or having them attend the mediation itself. This is to make sure they are not caught in the middle of their parents and are shielded from conflict between their parents. More than anything at separation, kids need to be shielded from parental conflict.
 
Where children are older and there is a shared commitment to hearing their views, the mediator will talk with parents about different ways to get the children’s views at the table without putting them in the middle or having them “choose” between their parents.
 
If there is already a counsellor or therapist working with the children, bringing that person in (only if both parents agree) is often a good way to hear indirectly from the children. Another approach is to have the children meet with an agreed-upon social worker who can then attend the mediation on the children’s behalf.
 
Each case is unique and so are the children. Bluewater will work with you and your former spouse to help determine the best way to have the children’s views at the table if you both want that. The focus will always be on protecting children from conflict while respecting their views.
 

Do We Have to Agree Before we Come to Mediation?

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No. Mediation is for “hard cases” too.
 
There is a common misconception that mediation is only for cases where separating spouses get along and already agree on most things.
 
Mediation is much more than that, and is useful also in cases that seem deadlocked at the outset. Even very difficult situations are resolvable in mediation.
 
Difficult issues that can be resolved in mediation include: where a parent wants to move with the children; where one person feels support is appropriate and the other does not; and where one parent wants 50/50 parenting and the other does not.
 
“Reviews” and “variations” that are provided for in existing separation agreements can also be resolved in mediation.
 
Complicated, difficult issues are resolvable with the assistance of an experienced, accredited mediator. What is required is a commitment to make the effort and a mediator who understands the issues. Mediation is almost always time and money well spent.
 

Will Mediation be Less Expensive than Court?

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Almost always, yes.
 
This is a common question and of course a very important one. For most couples, mediation is less expensive than court.
 
In mediation without counsel at the table, much of the work is done with the assistance of one professional (the mediator) rather than with two professionals (two lawyers.). Lawyers assist before, potentially between sessions, and at the end of the process, but the bulk of the work is done with the assistance of the mediator. This often reduces costs.
 
Mediation is focused on planning for your separated family, not on fighting, and this saves money for both of you.
 
If you have children, part of the planning will be planning for your children – planning for their schedule, how to make significant decisions for them, and how to parent together in a productive, nurturing way even though you and your spouse are not together.
 
Part of the planning will also be financial planning – planning regarding property and planning regarding support. This helps lay the groundwork for the future, and is a plan you make together. By focusing on planning rather than fighting, you keep more resources in your family.
 
Keeping cost manageable at separation – whether through mediation or otherwise – requires a commitment on the part of both spouses to doing so. Your mediator will help keep the planning process focused and productive so you can both move on.
 

Why Review Your Parenting Plan?

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If you have kids and a Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan, and your Agreement is more than a couple of years old, chances are that the parenting terms in that agreement may not ‘fit’ quite as well as when you negotiated it in the first place. That plan you had for short periods of time and frequent transitions may not be as attractive to older children as younger children.

Or, the arrangements you made for transitions at school may not be working out quite as you had intended. As we all know, kids change as they get older and parents’ circumstances change. This is why many parenting plans can use a “tune up” every few years.

Mediating changes to a parenting plan or separation agreement can be much less intimidating and stressful than at the initial creation of the plan. Having been separated for some time, you are now an ‘expert’ on which pieces of your initial plan work, and which pieces may cause conflict or upset for you or your children. And, the pain and anger which may still have been present when the initial agreement was negotiated may have dissipated. In short, it may be easier now to meet with your former spouse than it was in the first place.

If you are thinking it might be useful to talk about changes to your parenting plan or separation agreement to help make the terms fit better with your kids’ needs, we would be happy to help. We provide a supportive and caring space where both parents can talk about and plan for kids in a productive environment. If you then agree on changes, Bluewater can assist by preparing a draft Amending Agreement. Or, if the changes are minor, often the conversation between parents is enough to keep things moving in the right direction as you support your children’s development.