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LEFT : Mediator Marie Rudd reviewing documents. BOTTOM : Mediator Michelle Demarest composing mediation agreements.

and statutory constraints, to address specific needs of each child in a family. But their discretion is limited,” Marie said. “Mediation allows for a level of creativity not available in a courtroom.” She explained that while it is important to keep siblings together, other factors like age discrepancies and special needs may require parents to look at what’s best for each child based on his or her point in life. “In mediation, you can throw different ideas out there and pick and choose different ideas.” “The best thing you can do is ask yourself what you and your children would be doing if the family was still together—going to ball practice, dance class or schoolmates’ birthday parties. Then you need to figure out how to make that work,” Marie said. Louisiana law authorizes judges to order mediation in custody and visitation matters. Though the courts are not authorized to order mediation for related divorce issues, such as support and property divisions, couples are often impressed with the results they achieve in the court ordered sessions and choose mediation as the method to resolve those issues as well. Michelle noted that mediation is a great



R & D Mediation Group LLC is located at 450 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite D in Mandeville. For more information on their mediation services you can call 985-624-5584, visit their website rdmediation.com or email michelle@rdmediation. com or marie@rdmediation.com.

Sophisticated Woman | November 2013

challenge each party to not only communicate his or her position but to help uncover the motivating factors driving that position,” Marie said. According to Michelle, the motivation factor seen most often in conflict resolution is fear of loss. “Divorcing couples are often afraid to lose control. They’re afraid of losing their children, their money, their homes and their way of life.” “What we like to do is show them that mediation gives them the opportunity to control the decision making process. As opposed to conflicts given to the court to decide, which are in the judge’s hands,” Michelle continued. Mediation can begin at any time in the divorce process. In fact, couples may try mediation even before a divorce petition is filed in court. Once an agreement is reached in mediation, the parties will need to file the appropriate pleadings with the court. With the parties working together, however there should be no need to appear in court, which means a cost savings for the couple. Participants normally need three to five sessions to iron out specifics in a divorce settlement. The first session is usually two hours in length with the time frame of subsequent sessions dependent upon the needs of the parties. While session intervals should not exceed one week, R&D Mediation gives couples flexibility to schedule sessions around pay periods to spread the financial responsibility over time. Mediation sessions often resemble corporate brainstorming meetings, with easel pages all over the walls, outlining different ways conflicts can be addressed. “The courts do the best job they can, given their time

tool to help settle community property because it can help avoid or mitigate the attorney fees that pile up when couples argue about financial issues. “The less time couples spend fighting about money, the more money they will ultimately have to divide.” “For example, if people are arguing over a specific piece of furniture, we ask them to do a cost-benefit analysis to help them see the real financial and emotional costs of fighting for their item as compared to the actual monetary value. In some instances, especially when there is sentimental value attached, people decide it is worth the cost. In other cases, people realize it’s not worth fighting over,” she added. Once agreements are made, parties are given a memorandum of understanding, which they can take to their attorneys for perusal before signing. In the case of court ordered mediation, the memorandum of understanding is not shared with the court until both parties have signed it and made it a final judgement. As a mother that has co-parented her children for over ten years, Marie is not just an advocate for mediation; she is an example of its success. “We attended mediation and have been able to continue to be a family for our children, she said. It just looks different.”

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Sophisticated Woman Magazine - November 2013  

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