Elkins , at The result is that the mediator is dependent on the parties for information and can lead to a he said-she said battle for truth. Ventura County requires mediation in family law cases in two situations. Ventura Sup. Rule 9. Here, parties can avoid litigation all together, but if they do not agree, a trial is held and the court will issue an order on division of property, assets, and debts. Second, the parties must participate in mediation if there are children involved and therefore custody and visitation is at issue. It is possible for a divorcing couple to settle their entire case in outside mediation however, if they wish for the court to issue a custody order, then they must participate in mediation.
In addition to going through mediation at the outset of the divorce, the parties may repeat the process if they need the court to change the order while the children remain minors. The parties can review the document with their attorneys before signing it.
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Typically, the judge will approve whatever recommendations the mediator makes if both parties, and their attorneys, sign the agreement. Traditionally, there are a number of strategies an attorney can employ in mediation most of which mirror negotiation strategies. See Michael P.
However, family mediation is situational so the success of such strategies is highly dependent on reading the opposing party, effectively using the mediator, and timing—something an attorney cannot do from the hallway. But the requirement in Ventura County that a CCRC ultimately give a recommendation to the court, and which the judge will likely defer to, changes things dramatically.
This procedure has the effect of transforming the mediator into a de facto arbitrator who will ultimately pass judgment on the parties themselves and any advice or instruction an advocate gives his client should be offered with this framework in mind. In traditional mediation parties are often able to choose their mediator and that choice can be a powerful and strategic one. Mediators are people with their own preconceived ideas, ethics, morals, and biases. Mediators also affect a mediation by their chosen style, whether problem-solving, evaluative, directive, or transformative.
Abramson, supra at Knowing what style your CCRC employs can help your client prepare for mediation. For example, if the CCRC is problem-solving—facilitates an interest-based mutual agreement—then you can coach your client to be cooperative, candid, and honest about his concerns and desires. If the CCRC is evaluative—assessing a solution based on his own determinations—then you may have to coach your client to be firmer in their demands and less willing to make concessions.
One man I interviewed had been to court mediation quite often because his ex-spouse was constantly putting the children at risk i.
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Aaron M. Names are kept anonymous for confidentiality purposes. He needed a mediator who was more directive and not afraid of teaching his ex-wife what was and was not proper parenting.
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Ultimately, his situation has improved, even if for the sole reason that his ex-spouse is afraid of getting scolded by the CCRC again. A directive CCRC can also help an attorney educate her own client who may have his mind set on an unrealistic visitation schedule. For the sake of simplicity, the advocate and CCRC are female and the client is male. These choices are in no way representative of anything and are merely place-holders. In Ventura County family law court, parties do not have this option and the court will assign whatever CCRC is available to hear your case.
Therefore, it is prudent for the client to convey these traits while also standing firm on his key issues. He should have child-centered rationale for each demand to show that his number one priority is the health, safety, and welfare of the children rather than his own personal interests. Divorce is one of the most traumatic life experiences and the system asks parents to go in with a clear head and rationally negotiate a solution when their brains and hearts are likely not operating in a rationale manner. That is a tall order, and one that the advocate should openly acknowledge when preparing the client for mediation.
Remember, the advocate will not be there to calm the client down, temper responses, or change the subject when things get heated.
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By facing that reality head on, your client will be better prepared to recognize and deal with those intense emotions once in the mediation room. No matter how early you come on to the case, your client has already had a dozen or more friends give him armchair legal advice. The law presumes that both parents are equally able to parent the children, regardless of gender. However, there are still societal biases and while the idea of not seeing his children every day is initially shocking, there are some basic realities that must be discussed when it comes to custody.
It is important to explore all options and get the client comfortable with a variety of parenting plans. Document, Everything. Even though attorneys are not in the actual mediation, there is still a lot of traditional legal work to be done. An affidavit from a therapist or a teacher can be valuable, but there is no guarantee that the CCRC will independently seek it out and the opposing party can block unfavorable information by not agreeing to such collateral contacts. The only thing the CCRC is required to review are the pleadings and documents in the court file, so the mediator may not be willing to do something akin to taking judicial notice of outside facts.
The pleadings are also your first chance to frame the issues in a way favorable to your client. The heavy reliance on the pleadings means the opposition essentially has to put their entire case in the pleadings. When it comes to the ex-spouse, spend some time with the client trying to figure out how she ticks.
There are the obvious stereotypes: the mother wants the kids because it means collecting more money for support; the father wants the kids because it means paying less money for support. You may or may not have to deal with these stereotypes, but they exist for a reason—because custody is inextricably tied to the financials of divorce—and therefore, they are easy for the opposition to argue and manipulate even if false. The CCRC should be cognizant of these tactics, but it is still best for the client to rebut those presumptions at the outset. This is where the faming of issues and interests can have a big impact.
In our conversation he describes her first visit with him at a federal facility where the only opportunities for visitation are through glass. Statistics can only get us so far in understanding the experiences of families facing parental incarceration.
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Justice Strategies seeks to uplift those stories to help impact larger systemic change. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to chat with his daughter, who is now years-old. Hairston, Ph. Formerly incarcerated and convicted people, family members, community and spiritual leaders, elected officials and government employees will all come together to strengthen our relationships and work towards making change through community empowerment.
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