Page 1

Transitions Mediation Center

WELCOME TO TRANSITIONS... Welcome to Transitions Mediation. We are a team of certified family law mediators whose office is located in San Antonio, Texas. Our mission is to help you end the endless conflict you face in your divorce. When we started Transitions we were surprised to find so little resources to help educate parents on how to resolve conflict in their divorce. Lets begin.....


Conflict of course is a natural part of human interaction. Conflict arises from miscommunication, individual perspective and opinion. Its important to note that everyone has a unique way in how they resolve conflict. A person’s conflict style is based upon their personality, upbringing and work experience.

Conflict styles are adopted to help individuals keep themselves in

control of their environment. It provides a compass, a way to direct yourself and you keep you safe. Conflict causes companies millions of dollars per year due to worker’s leaving their place of employment OR underperforming. As you can imagine, the corporate world created ways to help reduce conflict at the work place. Testing and assessing personality styles has become one main resource in helping employer’s reduce conflict at the workplace. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assesses an individual’s conflict style based upon: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the other person’s concerns. From the Thomas- Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument Profile and Interpretive Report

The collection of data from the TKI testing showed that people had the ability to compromise regardless of their personal conflict style. At Transitions Mediation we believe that the best way to help you work through your issues (compromise) is to find a mediation process that best matches your conflict style. Mediation styles are broken down into four basic classifications: 1. Facilitative, 2. Transformative, 3. Problem Solving, and 4. Evaluative.

Through Facilitative mediation, the mediator structures a process to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator asks questions, validates and normalizes parties’ points of view; searches for interests underneath the positions taken by the parties and assists the parties in finding and analyzing options for resolution. The facilitative mediator does not make recommendations to the parties, give his or her own advice or predict what a court would do. The mediator is in charge of the outcome. Transformative mediation is structured opposite to the facilitative construct. During transformative mediation the parties are in charge of the mediation and the mediator helps facilitate the discussion, perhaps rephrasing each party’s position. Transformative mediation is relatively new to the family law arena. It is my opinion that if you work with a mental health professional PRIOR to mediation, transformative mediations offer a unique and powerful venue to REGAIN COMMUNICATION between yourself and your child’s other parent. Problem solving mediation may use a team based approach using experts such as a psychologist, CPA or other designated expert. The parties look for solutions to

problems with the assistance of the mediator based upon the opinions of the experts proffered. Think of problem solving mediation as a quasi-collaborative in nature. Evaluative mediation is more conclusions based. The mediator, typically a former judge or highly experienced family law attorney, will provide the parties with possible outcomes if the parties go to litigation. The parties base their outcomes not by communication BUT through compromise. Certain mediation communities have refused to categorize evaluative mediations as a form of mediation, considering it more of a settlement conference.


Legal Model

Personal Conflict Style

For Conflict Resolution

Compromising and Accommodating

Win-Win Strategies Collaborative Practices Interdisciplinary Approach Transformative Mediation Problem Solving Mediation


Negotiation Informal Settlement Conferences Litigation Evaluative Mediation/Settlement Conf. Facilitative Mediation



“Being sad when a marriage ends is natural. Grief is a healthy emotional response to the loss of an important relationship. We know that from research, theoretical writings and personal experience with thousands of people going through divorce that the emotional impace of divorce is as severe as that of a death in the immediate family.” Pauline H. Tesler M.A., J.D. and Peggy Thompson, Ph.D. – Authors of Collaborative Divorce.

The Seven stages of grief include:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Shock and Denial Pain and Guilt Anger Depression, loneliness

5. Upward Turn 6. Reconstruction 7. Acceptance and Hope.

Many parents find that their not emotionally ready to engage in the divorce process. They simply feel too angry or bitter to engage their soon to be former spouse. As a divorce attorney I would suggest that your emotions affect your cognitive ability to reason, focus and problem solve. From Dr. Leon Hoffman’s article in Pscyhology Today (October 2011) “Emotions Affect Cognitions.” “There

is no question that contemporary cognitive neuroscientists such as

Kahneman and Tversky have systematically demonstrated "that the flaws [of human cognition, such as memory or decision making] are not just in the passions but in the machinery of cognition." Yet, we not only understand via the methods of psychoanalysis that passions DO affect cognitions, but modern

cognitive neuroscientists have demonstrated neuralinterconnections between the areas of the brain that are actively prominent during cognition (prefrontal cortex) and the areas of the brain that are active during emotional arousal (the limbic system, such as the amygdala).

Whenever we have to make decisions as to how to act we always perform an unconscious mental compromise between our judgments and our emotions. This compromise has been demonstrated many times by cognitive neuroscientist Drew Westen and his colleagues. For example, these scientists found that in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, someone's emotional response to the


(whether they thought Clinton was right or wrong) "could account for 85 out of 100 subjects' inferences about the meaning of "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the U.S. Constitution, regardless of whether subjects had ever read either newspaper accounts or the Constitution." The fact that emotions impair an individual’s ability to cognitively process information is a major problem in the divorce process. If parents are not able to objectively assess their situation and act based on anger or ill feeling, mistakes are made along the way, creating an atmosphere of instability and future ill-will. Grief interferes with your ability to resolving conflict, and even worse, interferes with how you typically engage your spouse when resolving disputes.

Given the fact that you and your spouse may be in different stages of the grieving process, the level of cognitive impairment becomes the X factor that causes uncertainty and instability in resolving divorce conflict. Grief is temporary, grief passes over time. As grief passes people can go back to their basic means of resolving conflict. At Transitions Mediation we find that is no mistake that many divorce cases begin in litigation because one or both parents have not gotten over their hatred of one another. Parents should not feel ENTITLED to acting out in their divorce in ANGER. Parents have to start assessing grief PRIOR to initiating the divorce process. Why? * Litigation increases cost and hostility between parents. * Litigation increases the chance that your child will be exposed to unnecessary conflict. * Litigation decreases the chance for parents to work with one another, collaborate and resolve problems. * The damage that is done in litigation can not be undone. You can't, for example, take back the words you said in public about the other parent.


When I say Divorce, You say Quicksand‌.. When you think of the divorce I want you to think of quicksand. Because just like quicksand:


1. When you begin you will find yourself stuck, unable to know what steps to take in your divorce. 2. The more you struggle and choose to fight, the higher the probability the deeper you will sink into further litigation. 3. Getting out is going to require you to seek the help of OTHERS, such as mediators or mental health professionals. The Divorce Process, like quicksand requires you to Stop, Think and Evaluate Your Situation. It is hard to make good decisions if you do not understand where you are in the grieving process. It is hard to make good decisions if you have not educate yourself about your choices to Mediate, Litigate or Collaborate. Getting yourself out of quicksand means: 1. Educating yourself on your options to Mediate, Litigate or Collaborate. 2. Obtaining perspective of your situation 3. Seeking the advice from third parties for needed support and direction.

Mediate Litigate or Collaborate? Parents can mediate, litigate or collaborate to resolve their divorce. Each option carries with it a different election and a different outcome. Through litigation parents ask that a judge hear the facts of their case and make a binding decision on how their children, for example, will be raised. Litigants present their case in their best facts scenario, disparaging and minimizing the other parents’ role in their children’s lives. Litigation typically leads to more litigation.

So You Want to Coparent? You chose each other to be parents. You wondered what your child would look like with your eyes and his ears. You both though of names for your child and were present together when the child was born. You both watched your child’s first steps and heard their first words. You worked and you sacrificed together to raise this child. Now you wonder where you stand now that you are headed for divorce. You wonder if you will lose your relationship with your child through the divorce process. The question is how you will COMMUNICATE with your child’s other parent when you are in conflict?

A peaceful solution prevents further damage in your existing relationship with your child’s other parent.

Your best chance to reach a peaceful solution is through

mediation. There are FOUR basic benefits of mediation. Number One: Mediation is a common sense approach to resolving differences spouses have in their divorce.

Mediation offers individuals the ability to work through

the best options on the table to resolve the issues in dispute.

Ninety percent of all

cases are settled at the mediation table. Number Two: Mediation affords parties the ability to be in control over their lawsuit and not risk an adverse ruling. No one truly knows what the outcome of their case be when they take their case to trial. Different Judges have different styles and different viewpoints on how family cases will be resolved. Number Three:

Mediating the dispute means that the parties arrive at an

agreement without the cost associated with litigation. Cases that are mediated lower the cost the parties expect to incur in their lawsuit by as much as 50%. That savings could mean a vacation OR one less credit card debt. Number Four: Mediation means that their divorce will be resolved with less conflict than if the case were taken to trial. Each parent will have to remain in contact with their former spouse AFTER divorce to some degree. Less conflict DURING the divorce process usually means the parties will have LESS conflict after.

At the early stages of divorce many divorces head to litigation simply because one parent wishes to choose litigation to resolve their dispute. Why? Stop think and assess. Most importantly think long term. If you understand that ninety percent of all cases settle outside of litigation, does it make sense to choose litigation to start your divorce matter? Is it in your interest to accept a model that comes at high cost and brings your children into conflict? Pick up the phone and talk to your spouse. See if you can get on the same page about different ways to resolve your dispute. Is there a better way that we can resolve our differences? Then ask: CAN WE DO BETTER?


Start by addressing the needs of your child. Talk to your spouse and answer these questions: 1. How can we work together and be parents to our child? 2. Can we talk to a neutral mental health professional to get direction in our case? 3. Can we go to mediation? 4. Can we consider a collaborative divorce? 5. How will we resolve future problems to avoid future conflict?


Parents should be focusing on: 1. How will our child be affected by our divorce. 2. Day Care 3. Child Support 4. Parenting Schedules 5. Holidays 6. Schooling 7. Religion 8. Extracurricular activities. 9. Child’s Schedule 10.Discipline Focusing on the primary issues that need to be resolved for life POSTDIVORCE goes a long way to choosing what conflict style you need to choose to resolve your dispute.




Custom fitting your mediation based upon your individual conflict style.


Custom fitting your mediation based upon your individual conflict style.