The Advantages of Virtual Mediation
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: For the last three years I have been doing virtual mediation, online mediation with clients across America. I have found that it is a better way to conduct mediation because it seems you have better control over the participants in the mediation. Since doing on-line mediation it has been successful in most cases. The communication is better thought out, the anger between parties are more focused on what is being said. We still have the ability to move people into private rooms and have a good conversation confidentially while on-line. Below is a great article from a mediator describing why online mediation is working so well. I agree with her. Remember, you don't have to wait for a court to tell you to go to mediation. Mediation should be your first priority to resolve the issue with a certified mediator before going to court.
If you have a conflict or dispute, and need a mediator, call my office at: 305.824.2963
by Marian Grande - February 2022 Given the pandemic, virtual mediations seem to be more popular these days. Likely, online mediations are here to stay.
Also, courts are now severely backlogged.
This means that the conflicts that parties to a dispute are facing have taken an immense economic and personal toll on them, with the likelihood of a speedy resolution through the courts being next to impossible.
Online mediations require new procedures to enhance the parties’ experience and preserve the integrity of the mediation strategy.
Advantages of Mediation - Mediation is an efficient and cost-effective alternative dispute resolution process focused on the parties’ interests and requirements.
Mediation has always been a great option to litigation, which is adversarial.
Entering mediation in good faith and being cooperative in the process is essential in mediation, and it produces better results that both parties can be happy with.
Clients are empowered to make their own decisions.
The Advantages of Online Mediation - There are several undisputed benefits of virtual mediation.
Growing these benefits can only lead to more disputes being resolved out of court and, ultimately, more satisfied parties.
Convenience - The convenience of virtual mediation allows the parties to take part from the comfort of their home.
Caucus - If a party requests a caucus during a traditional mediation, they will have to move to another location, with the mediator to hold a private conversation. The other party is often left wondering what was discussed without them present, and this may obviously cause poor feelings between the parties.
With online mediation, parties can request caucuses without the other party’s knowledge, which diminishes the chances of ill feelings.
Dominant Personalities - When mediators can convey more through email instead of a person-to-person mediation, the more dominant party cannot commandeer the mediation for their own self-serving purposes.
Furthermore, the more silent party will not feel compelled to confess matters unnecessarily, and they won’t feel forced to comply when they don’t agree just to end the mediation quickly.
Focusing on what is important - Online mediations allow the parties to focus on the disputes at hand. It is easy to be distracted when you are holding in-person negotiations.
Distance - If the parties live in separate cities or even provinces, location stops being an issue in deciding where to hold mediation. In addition, you do not have to concern yourself with choosing a mediator near you.
Confrontation - The chances of a confrontation between you and your spouse are significantly reduced in online mediation, making it easier to make decisions.
Emotional - Being in the same room as the other party, as in traditional mediation, can be emotionally challenging and increase anxiety.
The physical space provided through online mediation diminishes the emotional stress involved.
Co-Parenting and Forgiveness
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: Every night I end my day in prayer, my mom told me it was vital at the end of the day. I have said this before that I pray for three things, 1) for the forgiveness of my sins, 2)to help me forgive, 3) to teach about forgiveness through my actions and words. Now the last few nights in my conversation with God I told him I would do a blog on forgiveness, however I forgot, so this morning in my morning prayer I told God I would keep my promise. We humans are forgetful people.
First, I want to share some quotes that mean an important lesson for me.
Take forgiveness slowly. Don't blame yourself for being slow. Peace will come. - Yoko Ono - now this is important because we as humans think that everything can be done immediately. But when you dealing with forgiveness it takes time. It doesn't happen over night. Now it helps if you leave the issue or the person in God's hands, but our human minds keep going. The mind keeps spinning the incident or words said over and over in your mind. So even though we have stated we forgive, sometimes in your weakest moment, you un-forgive in your mind and you relive it all over again. The solution, look up, and say, Lord, help me forgive one more time. Depending on the hurt and pain you went through, forgive, but understand it is a process to forgive and it takes time.
Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me. - H. Jackson Brown Jr. - I do a lot of family mediation. In my mediation sessions with broken families forgiveness is a hard thing for them to muster. I see Grandparents that have been cut out of their grandchildren's lives because of words. I have seen co-parents fight over things that a simple decision can be made together instead of fighting against each other. Some of these conflicts come from us personally, we created the conflict. Before you even start a conversation with the person you are angry with, sit down first, and say out loud - I love you, you are beautiful, please forgive me. Remain silent, then pick up the phone or rewrite your text and through forgiveness you have words, verbal and written, that have been calmed. No matter how mad you are, go through the process of forgiveness. You have a great life ahead of you, don't screw it up with hate and not forgiving. Forgive yourself and the other person one more time and show love.
I say this over and over again, adults divorce but families don't. When you are co-parenting, you still have a family. Forgiveness is a process in the action of co-parenting.
If you are having problems in the co-parenting process and need to talk with a mediator to resolve conflict, call my office at 305.824.2963 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org If I am in a mediation session, leave a message and I will get back with you.
The Before Marriage Mediation
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: I am noticing some issues with the before part of marriage. So one is sitting down, before saying I Do, and talk over the financial issues of each other. Some own businesses and are there any rules in place on ownership and what is expected? What about the debt that each may have? Ownership in homes or property? And the list goes on. There are so many things that need to be talked about prior to marriage. And using a mediator with a financial background, who knows the questions to ask, is part of the process of getting married. I love sitting down with clients prior to marriage to make sure each party knows what the other party is bringing to the marriage table.
I know what you are thinking! We are in love, love conquers all! However, love is a wonderful experience to be in, but when there are financial issues that have not been resolved and agreed to prior to marriage - conflicts begin. Financial conflict strains a marriage greatly, finger pointing begins, and the ability to communicate civilly stops. The best thing is that through mediation you can outline the issues, set rules to them, and agree on how you are going to deal with these issues into the marriage. And sometimes, you may stop until all the debt has been cleared up prior to saying "I Do".
If you have a considerable amount of wealth then it becomes a needed process. I have had clients say, I will always get a pre-nup and then they fall in love and everything goes to hell in a hand basket (southern saying). Let's see what attorneys says about this process of Pre-nup mediation.
If you are getting married and would like to sit own and talk with a mediator, send an email to: email@example.com I will be more then happy to meet with you.
By Laurie Israel, Family Lawyer and Mediator - When a couple is about to marry and one of the parties requests a prenup, it almost invariably sets into motion a series of extremely negative interactions at a time when love should rule the day. The terms embedded in the prenup contract itself often cause harm to the marital relationship both before and after the wedding.
Which is More Important: Risk Containment or the Health of the Marriage?The negotiations between the two lawyers involved in the prenup can be quite painful for the couple. After all, the essential aim of almost all prenups is to withdraw marital rights from the less-moneyed partner in favor of the more-moneyed spouse (although most prenups do contain some protection for the less-moneyed partner). Usually, the rationale is “asset protection” and “risk containment” if the marriage ends in divorce.
Sometimes there are good reasons to have a prenup, even in first marriages. But unfortunately, most attorneys do not look at the health of the marriage as a goal when they are working with a client on a prenup. The result can be a damaged relationship before the wedding even takes place. The tenor of the negotiations and process in formulating a prenup will never be forgotten, and the content of the resulting prenup can contain financial terms that often cause the marriage to be imbalanced at the outset. (See examples below.) Following the rubric of “risk containment,” the attorney drafting the prenup may have made divorce more likely.
Prenuptial Agreements Are Often “Inconsiderate” and Require No Consideration
Part of the perils of prenups is that, unlike a commercial contract, “consideration” is not required for a prenup to be binding. Isn’t it quite odd that a couple may have less protection when going into a marriage than when signing an ordinary business contract? And think of the basic meaning of “consideration” – having regard for the needs of another. Is a more-moneyed future spouse being inconsiderate with their (and their lawyer’s) demands? Maybe so. And a prenup attorney often furthers this inconsiderateness in their financial advocacy for their client, without keeping their eye on the ball – the success of the upcoming marriage.
What if There is an Extreme Difference Between the Parties’ Asset Growth During the Marriage?
It is also quite odd that most states deem prenuptial agreements enforceable unless the terms of the agreement are “unconscionable” at the time of divorce.
Unconscionability is an extremely high standard to overcome. A prenup can be enforced where the more moneyed spouse had $300,000 of separate assets which has grown to $10 million, and the other spouse’s assets have grown to be less than $300,000 at the time of divorce. The prenup would still likely be deemed “conscionable” under the rules of enforceability. Think about what the less-moneyed spouse’s knowledge about this growing disparity in assets (and security) might have done to the marriage. Studies show that marriages thrive on generosity. Prenups, as written by lawyers, are generally the antithesis of generosity.
Enter Prenuptial Agreement Mediation
Mediation is a process where the two upcoming spouses meet with a neutral mediator to discuss and formulate the financial terms of their upcoming marriage. It’s a three-way process, where the mediator obtains the facts (especially the financial ones) and facilitates a discussion between the parties of terms they both agree on.
Mediators are trained to “level the playing field.” In the prenup context, this especially means eliciting the views and concerns of the less-moneyed spouse in a safe environment where these concerns can be addressed. An experienced prenuptial agreement mediator will be able to lead the parties towards solutions they (and their attorneys) may not have thought about. In this way, the result can be something other than a “zero-sum” game, and consideration can be provided to the less-moneyed spouse, in all senses of that word.
Prenuptial Agreement Mediation: What are the Steps?
During the mediation sessions, there is a wide-ranging discussion of assets, income, possible inheritances, and marital goals. Terms need to be envisioned as they might play out in a long marriage.
One of the important issues to discuss during the prenuptial agreement mediation sessions is the concept of “contribution” to marriage: the financial and the non-financial. With many couples – even millennial couples – one of the spouses may put their career on the back burner to support the homemaking and child-rearing functions of the marital unit.
When one of the parties is engaged in a business, “contribution” to the marriage becomes an especially important issue to take into account. The danger is that many prenups give all the increase in the value of the business to the owner-spouse. This puts a stress on the marriage because the spouse engaged in the business would be putting forth some of their efforts toward separate financial gain while the other spouse would be putting forth 100% of their efforts toward the marriage.
The mediator creates a term sheet from these discussions. The mediation clients review and give their input on the term sheet between sessions and during subsequent sessions. The term sheet includes provisions to address possible divorce. It also may include terms relating to the financial conduct and decisions made during the marriage. The term sheet should also include terms if the marriage ends in the death of one of the spouses, with at least a floor (minimum) percentage of the decedent’s assets in most cases being bequeathed to the surviving spouse.
After the term sheet (Memorandum of Understanding) is written and agreed to, the next step is to locate reviewing attorneys for the prenuptial agreement mediation clients. It is preferable for the mediator to designate a list of preferred reviewing attorneys for the clients to choose from.
The result is a peaceful process that leads to a healthy prenuptial agreement that can be embraced (note choice of word) by both parties to the upcoming marriage.
He Turned Around and Prayed
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: Several years ago, I had to go to a skilled nursing facility to mediate an employee workplace conflict where the workers had gone out on strike and temporary healthcare staff were brought in to cover the patients care. However, the workers picketing were threatening the temporary staff going in and out of the facility. Now only were they getting harassed outside of the facility, some of the normal staff were not working with the temporary staff. So, I was called in to mediate the issue.
However, as I was sitting in the SNF administrators’ office talking about the issue in his facility, which he and his brother owned, a phone call disrupted our discussion. He took the call and after he was finished, he turned to me and said. Could we pause the meeting, he needed to pray? You see they had lost a patient and they were out searching to find the patient. He turned his chair around and bowed his head and prayed.
He turned around and said thank you to me. At that moment the phone rang, and he was informed they had found the patient is all was ok. Prayer answered!
Normally meetings are not stopped to pray. Nor do you see prayers that are answered right in front of you in a business meeting. It does happen. Before I go into a mediation session I stop and pray. I learned from the administrator of a SNF that prayer even works in business and mediation.
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: As a mediator you have people come before you and the stories that are told and the arguments made, tells you what kind of people they may be. Now, I know as a mediator I should not make assumptions, but in the back of my mind, or gut feeling, I can usually tell within the first five minutes. I should not assume, I know. Please no lectures.
However, I had two business partners contact me back in 2021 to mediate a big dispute they were having. Neither one could stand the other one. When they first met with me in joint session there was something wrong that I could not put my fingers on it. Both individuals seemed angry in how they looked, how they moved, and spoke to each other. It was like they wanted to put curses on each other, and their words were formed to do harm to the other person. It went back and forth. Doing the mediation together just was not working, so I closed the mediation session to do separate sessions with each one. I got them to put offers on the table, one agreed, then the other one kept putting more stuff on the table just to get back at the other individual.
The individual sessions were working but it what that deep hate and anger that created a big wall. Now I said I should not make assumptions, but I did. There was something more at play then just t. angry people. The name of their business was a name from Satanism. So, I looked up their web site and found logos and other signs of witchcraft. Even the names of the drinks were names you would find in a scary movie. So, my assumption was that the harsh words and hate came from a deeper place.
In the end, one of the partners was willing to settle and move on, the other partner said no. Mediation done – no conclusion. From the beginning I had a feeling this was not going to settle because something else was at play. That is why I love doing business mediation because the story is always new, different personalities, and in the end - get an agreement in place.
Forget about assumptions, put them to the side, and just get the job done. Come to think of it, maybe they were looking for a medium, not a mediator?
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: I have written a lot about workplace mediation and how to resolve conflicts. However, I have personally gone through workplace conflict that lead to violence. So when I tell you to resolve conflicts early, you can also eliminate some workplace violence. Workplace violence can come from a conflict of some sort. I had a contract with a Christian University medical center, the year I was there we had 15 physical assaults' from employee against other employees. Now you would think that there would be no assaults at a Christian organization, but I am afraid to report - Christians have tempers and issues also. Conflict is everywhere, in fact most workers deal with about 3 hours a week in some sort of conflict.
The first conflict that I was involved in, that taught me a lot, was when I worked with a tax processing company in Phoenix, AZ. I was in charge of the computer operations and processing individual tax returns in our computer center. We did about 25,000 from January through April, so there was a lot of stress. I had hired a night shift operator and one day he didn't show up for work. Then I got a phone call that he was quitting and would not be there anymore. Quickly I had to train another member of staff to run the computers. Then at the start of my former employees shift, he showed up. I told him that he had called in an quit his job and I had to replace him. I was sitting in the computer room at the processing desk, he walked straight towards me, took his fist and put it trough the wall above my head. Huge hole created from anger above my head. Now the his relationship with me changed, Quietly I quickly escorted him out of the office and locked the office doors. Then his mother called me about 10 times that night. However, I brought the employee back the next day and he and I, with the facility manager went over what had happened. He apologized and went on his way.
The second workplace conflict came when I was contracted to do work at a major learning medical center in California. The campus had it's own police department and had a good staff. The Manager of the Security department had a conflict with an employee. It had been going on for weeks and they never brought the issue into mediation to resolve the issue. The conflict got so bad that the manager had to fire the security officer. The officer drove home, got his gun, came back to the medical facility and shot and killed his manager and the secretary. Immediately the facility went into lockdown. I gathered up my employees, took them into a safe room, all doors were locked until we got an all clear from the San Bernardino police. We did not know where he had gone, if we was still on campus. The officer went home and took the gun to himself and died. After that incident it affected all of the employees and we had to be taught on how to deal with conflict and what to do when we had to let people go. Every company, business, hospital, should have a plan of action, but they also need a conflict management strategy where a mediator comes in and tries to resolve the conflict before it get's out of hand. At this hospital it got out of hand.
Every company needs to hire a mediator to come into the business and mediate the conflict before it gets out of hand. Conflicts cost money for the company, employees production goes down, and it had lead to violence. Mediate conflicts quickly. If you need conflict mediation at your company, you can schedule a confidential consultation by going to my website and book time online: www.lodge-co.com
NSC: Every year, millions of American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. In 2020, assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and 392 fatalities, according to Injury Facts®.
Certain industries, including healthcare, service providers and education, are more prone to violence than others. Taxi drivers, for example, are more than 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers, according to OSHA.
But make no mistake: Workplace violence can happen anywhere.
The Numbers are Alarming
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace violence falls into four categories: Criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship, which overwhelmingly targets women.
No matter who initiates the confrontation, the deadliest situations involve an active shooter. U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines active shooter as someone "actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
A lot can happen in the chaotic minutes before police arrive; DHS advises staying calm and exercising one of three options: Run, hide or fight.
● If there is an accessible escape route, leave your belongings and get out
● If evacuation is not possible, find a hiding place where you won't be trapped should the shooter find you, lock and blockade the door, and silence your phone
● As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter by throwing items, improvising weapons and yelling.
Every Organization Needs to Address Workplace Conflicts before it leads to Violence
Managers and safety professionals at every workplace should develop a policy on violence that includes:
● Employee training and creating an emergency action plan
● Conducting mock training exercises with local law enforcement
● Adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence
Know the Warning Signs
Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery or ideology – with or without a component of mental illness. While there is no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors in coworkers that might signal future violence:
● Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
● Unexplained absenteeism, change in behavior or decline in job performance
● Depression, withdrawal or suicidal comments
● Resistance to changes at work or persistent complaining about unfair treatment
● Violation of company policies
● Emotional responses to criticism, mood swings
Most every "place" is somebody's workplace. So whether you are a patron or an employee, it's important to be alert.
Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: The most important document you will have between parents who are co-parenting is the - Parenting plan. This sets the rules between parents on how they will engage as parents, working together, for the better good of the children. You may hate the other person, but you have to co-parent the child. It also provides with the tool of mediation to resolve disputes between the two parents peacefully. There are many times I am called to mediate with co-parents that want to decide on schooling, who gets to keep the dog, adjusting the parenting time for holidays or vacations, trying to decide on which doctor to take them to. Most recent is the discussion of Covid and vaccines. There are even issues between co-parents and the grandparents, or other 3rd party individuals. Mediation is a good tool and more parents should use it, even those of you who have children together but were never married. Work your conflicts out through mediation.
Whether or not divorce law in your state requires one, a parenting plan can help ensure a smooth transition between parents and children during divorce. A parenting plan has yet to become a requirement in many states when parents opt to divorce and must deal with shared parenting. Although this is the case, it is beneficial for all parties to develop a plan of this type when it comes to child custody. By having this plan in place, everyone knows what to expect and disputes are minimized.
Children need to know what to expect, especially during a divorce, and this plan helps to ensure that everything from visitation to schedule changes will be something that parents agree on. If the child has a question, he or she will receive the same answer from either parent based on this plan.
What should be included in a plan of this type?:
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.