Hello everyone. It has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything. This particular business entity really doesn’t need too much blog activity and I have been putting efforts into educational endeavors which involve more writing than my mediation/PC/PTE leg of services. I am also working on a Master’s degree, which keeps me too busy to blog here right now. That said, Life’s Doors Mediation is open for business during this time. I do offer some services via email, web meeting and phone calls.
For those of you who were trying to establish PC or PTE services, if those orders come through, we can utilize technology to get those services started for you.
It is my preference not to do anything other than Face to Face for mediation sessions. Therefore, during this time, I may elect not to schedule mediations. However, there is usually a 2-3 week wait for Mediation for regular scheduling due to payments and paperwork needs so I do not think this medical emergency interferes with business as usual there. If you need mediation, feel free to call. We will assess the situation at that time.
If you have questions or concerns for any of the services provided, feel free to reach out by phone, email or web contact form.
Mediator, Parenting Consultant, Parenting Time Expeditor, Coach, Parent Educator
Life’s Doors Mediation
1710 Douglas Drive N
Golden Valley, MN 55422
When parents enter the Family Court System it is very confusing. First, they want you to part ways, but at the same time keep forcing you together to “co-parent”. They use confusing lingo and it seems like the parents do all the work, while the professionals take a lot of money for putting the hard work on you. It is true. They do. A common quote from my coaching clients is, ” I had to do all the work for my lawyer.” Well, there is a reason for that. The professionals do not know your children, your schedules, what matters most to you and what doesn’t, and in particular, once you have entered post decree land, there isn’t a whole lotta law that goes on. The law becomes the law you (or the courts if you weren’t able to agree) created for your family. There is no law that dictates what your parenting time schedule has to be. There really isn’t. The time can be distributed evenly between parents or it may not be distributed evenly for any number of reasons. Some states do a default parenting time schedule when parents cannot create one on their own, but it is all very complicated. Parents can choose to deviate from a schedule if they want and they are encouraged to be flexible as life evolves. Why be flexible? Because life can change quite a bit over the span of a childhood, but even when you have deviated from the schedule, if you return to court later, the court will enforce the schedule that is in an order because that is what they signed off on.
Sometimes, this confusion and lack of structure creates fear and anxiety for parents. Some parents do not understand that the law has pretty much completed their case and they keep waiting for “it to be done”. In other words, a parent may want this person who hurt them so terribly to go away and never bother them again. Unfortunately, though, that is not the way it works when you have children together. Like it or not, you do have to talk to each other and coordinate schedules, school or medical needs, etc. The way most parents learn to do this is to work on emotionally processing the divorce and hurt feelings they were left with from the relationship through therapy, coaching, education or self help, so they can move into a new type of relationship, without having all of the bad feelings get in the way. Unfortunately, some people are unable to do this or don’t see the value in doing the hard work of self reflection. They don’t like what has happened. They don’t like the arrangement. They don’t like that they have a co-parent because life would certainly be easier if they didn’t, and they don’t like that their ex never got punished for the hurtful things they said or did throughout the marriage and/or divorce process. Is that what Family Court is there for? Are they there to punish?
Many people who continue to push for some kind of “conviction” of their co-parent do not seem to understand that Family Court is not criminal court. It is not a crime to get a divorce. It can be very hurtful, but it is not a crime. It is not a crime to want some of the stuff that was accumulated during the marriage or to want to continue to be a parent to your child after the divorce. The fact that someone seeks a divorce, even though one parent does not think that will be good for the child, doesn’t make it a crime. These things are the nature of relationship breakdowns and unavoidable in some marriages. If the marriage is going to end, it is going to be end and hopefully, each spouse will learn to come to terms with that and move on to create the life they dream about, either on their own or with someone new. On top of that, when you share a child, you have to process these separate lives, while still coming in contact with the other person. That makes it much harder to go through all of the emotions and accept the loss. That is why your success in court depends greatly on you more than professionals. It depends on how resilient you are. Professionals don’t know what you need to get to the point of acceptance. Some professionals believe that you need time, but courts have deadlines. They cannot just sit and wait for everyone to process their loss. If they did, many people would continue to not process the loss and hope that their spouse will change their mind by forcing the marriage to continue forever, but there are two people in this thing. Often, two people with very different desires for outcome. What do you call that difference of opinion or differing needs? It is called a dispute.
What do you do when working with two people in a dispute? For example, let’s say that two of your friends have a dispute over some words that were said. Suppose that the friends are Janet and Martha. Janet told Martha something in confidence and without realizing it, Martha shared the information with another friend named James. Her breaking confidence was not very nice, but it was not a crime. Now, in this dispute, the words have been spoken and the action cannot be undone. Hopefully, Martha is sorry for saying something she should not have said, but she cannot do anything other than to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Janet can either accept her apology and work to repair the relationship or she can decide that it is time to let the friendship go. For the two of them, that may work, but maybe because your goal is to remain friends with the two of them, even though their friendship has ended, and no one is upset with you about anything, each one will be able to stay friends with you individually. The relationships are all going to change, even though you were not part of the dispute, it does affect you. You may try t it and see how it goes and find out that there needs to be some ground rules set. Especially when the friends don’t think that you should be friends with both of them and fight over you. If your friends are going to put you in the middle or try to win you over to one side or the other, it is going to become very uncomfortable for you and you are going to feel the ramifications of their quarrel. As an adult person, you can walk away and say good-bye to both of them if the situation becomes too uncomfortable for you, but a child of divorce cannot do that when the dispute is between their parents.
Another thing that would not happen between the friends is this, no one would try getting the police involved or ask a court to prevent you from having a relationship with either Janet or Martha. There was no crime committed and you have the right to have a relationship with anyone you wish. There wouldn’t be any authority figure to come yell at Martha or order her to not be allowed to have friends again. Because we are talking about a dispute between people, no matter what anyone else thinks of it, no crime occurred, and so there is nothing that anyone else can do about it, certainly not the police. Martha and Janet will feel the way they feel about it. A relationship ended. There is really no “right” outcome from what has happened. People who care about them may want them to apologize, make up and go back to being friends, but Janet and Martha will be the ones who decide their next steps, but they way they will each treat you afterward will determine how you feel about each one of them going forward. Hopefully, they will understand that you have separate feelings and needs from them and that your desire is to remain friends with both of them separately and they will create conditions where you can do that.
For a child of divorce, they need their parents to sort this out for them. They don’t want anyone to punish mommy or daddy because they hurt each other’s feelings or made each other sad. If mommy and daddy can deal with their hurt feelings and put them aside in order to understand their child’s needs and figure out how to separately manage the child’s activities, health and wellness, that is the best thing that can happen, but when the parents refuse or keep trying to make the child choose sides or stop seeing a parent, in the legal divorce they are going through, that is when a third party neutral is called upon to come in and try to help for the child’s sake. By this time, the hurts of the past are way behind the parents and they are usually already divorced. The situation is what it is and the court orders/agreements are what they are. Court appointed third parties are there to help everyone make it work, but if they do see a child in the middle, they will help to free the child from the conflict and negative feelings between parents. There really isn’t a lot that third parties can do to help you improve the situation. You will have to do this for yourself. They will try to get you focused on the child to make the child’s life more manageable because children do suffer enormous consequences when they have to live through parent hostility.
Many times parents do not understand this. They complain and complain and complain about what it is they do not like about the other parent or what the other parent has done. They expect that if they demonstrate just how bad a person the other parent is, someone will punish that parent in some way. That is not the nature of dispute resolution, which is what Family Court is about. Family Court looks for solutions and moving families forward. They want you to take your family out of court and start making decisions for yourselves. They don’t want to parent your children for you. They want to give you the tools to do it.
If your approach to Family Court is to try to prove fault in a no-fault system, you will lose sight of the needs of your child. If you need help understanding dispute resolution or gaining some coping skills so that you can focus on your children more than the battle, especially if you have an ex spouse who cannot seem to grasp the nature of custody and parenting time, give us a call at 763-566-2282 or at High Conflict Central, 1-800-516-2446. We’ll do our best to help you.
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Check out our new location at:
The Golden Valley Professional Building
1710 Douglas Drive N., Golden Valley, MN 55422
If you want to schedule mediation, get support with divorce or are trying to work through a difficult co-parenting, high conflict custody situation, please contact Susan Carpenter at Life’s Doors Mediation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 763-566-2282.
Here is a video from Henry Winkler offering the secret to a long marriage. There is a lot if truth in what he says and it doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced people trying to co-parent, a parent and child relationship in conflict or even experiencing issues between friends. It is not about how you meant it, but how it lands! See what Henry Winkler says…
Many people do not know that Life’s Doors Mediation offers much more than divorce services. We also offer Marital Mediation and relationship coaching services. Our goals is to improve relationships. No matter where two people are in their relationship, they can move beyond conflict and reach a peaceful coexistence. We’ve had married couples and unmarried couples come in to learn communication and conflict management skills without any mediation at all, but we have also helped parents with teenage children and couples who are struggling to stay together negotiate their way to a workable relationship through non legal mediation processes. Agreements do not have to be written. It gives people a chance to discuss their needs in the relationship and try to get to a place of understanding from the other side. Many couples want to discuss their needs and desires and agree to a way forward. Couples who use marital mediation can avoid divorce, but it has nothing to do with any court process. It is simply an agreement between two people. The agreement can be written or simply be a verbal agreement. It is a matter between the two people involved whether they wish an agreement be written or not. Because these types of agreements are usually not very involved, the fees are much lower than it would be for a court involved case.
If you would like more information on informal marital or relationship mediation, please contact Susan Carpenter at Life’s Doors Mediation via phone, 763-566-2282 or email: email@example.com. You may also want to check out High Conflict U for our relationship, communication and conflict skill building classes and programs. There are times when you may be able to save your marriage or restore a relationship. As Henry Winkler said, both people have to willing. If that is where you are at, despite any problems you are having, reach out and see if Life’s Doors Mediation or High Conflict U may be able to help.
Mediation can be an anxiety and fear producing experience. it is rarely something people look forward to. Many of the first conversations I have with people who are in the process of finding a mediator involve the following language, or something similar:
“Well, _________ says we have to try mediation. It will probably be a very short meeting because we can never agree on anything. I just don’t see him/her saying anything other than, “NO!”. That’s all it ever is.”
Still, they are willing to set up that appointment and come in to mediate, and they are usually very surprised at the outcome.
Rarely does anyone look forward to mediation. Usually, the parties have not spoken in quite some time, and if they have, the conversation quickly escalates into an argument. Nobody wants to embrace conflict. Conflict is unpleasant and something most people do their best to avoid. The thought of sitting down in a room with this person seems unthinkable because of the history of the relationship and because you know this person all too well. You can only think of all the mean and nasty things that other person has ever said to you, and every horrible experience you have been through with them or because of them. Those negative thoughts are why it is easier to ignore the problem, rather than deal with the problem. However, if you don’t deal with the problem, it will not go away. Sometimes when that problem is dropped into the legal process, it will only grow bigger. Legal proceedings are relationship problems on steroids.
If you can look at mediation not as a conflict, but as an opportunity to come to resolution, you can quickly see areas where you and the other person have some common ground. A good mediator will point out areas where the two of you are in agreement from early in the process. You need to remember that mediation is not only anxiety and fear producing for you, but also for the other person. They are not looking forward to the experience either.
Mediation can be a very positive experience and it can change relationships for the better. That doesn’t mean that you are going to repair the relationship. That will sometimes happen, but more often, you can bring closure or a new direction to the relationship. That may be a scary thought, but think of it this way, whatever the relationship is right now, if all it involves in not being on speaking terms, or escalating arguments, it is not working the way it is. Putting an end to the conflict and changing the relationship going forward, can put you on a more positive path, even if that means you walk your path, and they walk a different path.
You can make mediation a positive experience for you, by approaching it in a positive way. Don’t assume the worst. Go about it with no preconceived notions. If you come out without an agreement, you are no worse off than you were before, but remember, you may come out ahead.
Mediation is a confidential process so you can speak openly and not fear any ramifications in court later. As a matter of fact, if the issue is taken into court, and the other party tries to tell the judge that you said, “X, Y or Z” in mediation, the judge will stop any further discussion of what was said in mediation. Go into mediation and say what you need to say. That alone can be quite healing for people.
Some other ways to ensure that mediation is a positive experience for you are to:
1. Make sure you are well rested.
2. Make sure that you will not be hungry. If you schedule around lunch or dinner time, eat before the session if you can. If not, bring a snack. Feel free to take a break if you need to. Mediators will usually do their best to make sure their clients basic needs are met.
3. Come prepared with your idea for resolution. Do not think in terms of what you think the other party may or may not agree to. You may come out very surprised. It happens more often than not. Ask for what you need, but also be prepared to compromise.
4. Consider what the other party is asking for. If you need a moment to think about it, be sure to let the mediator know that. You do not have to agree to something that you do not want to do, but sometimes a knee jerk reaction is to say no, when the reality is, it may be a workable solution.
5. Think about your life going forward, not about the past. Even if the relationship was bad, it may improve when you can agree to move forward after coming to some resolution of the issues that have you entrenched in battle.
6. Don’t think of it in terms of all or nothing. Partial agreements can be very helpful, too. You may be able to resolve some of your issues and that is a step in the right direction. You would be surprised how often an agreement on a small issue starts the ball rolling on bigger issues. Sometimes, people return to mediation after coming out of a first session with a partial agreement. After having some time to reflect on a prior session, people realize that they can return to mediation and work out the rest of the agreement.
7. Keep your discussion positive and use I statements. Try not to place blame. How you got to where you are doesn’t have to interfere with a plan that moves you forward.
8. Consider mediation a new beginning. Even when you do not find resolution, the conversation can help you clarify where the relationship is at. You no longer have to wonder if you will or will not be able to have a productive conversation. Let the experience shape how you will go forward with or without the other party. Sometimes relationships do have to end, but it opens our lives up for new relationships going forward. We can take what we have learned to make better choices in the future.
Mediation offers the opportunity to redefine relationships. It also offers an opportunity to be creative when resolving conflict. When you stay positive and are open to the possibility of what may happen, your experience will serve you well, even if you are not able to come into an agreement.
If you enter into a mediation session with a positive attitude, it will often spill over to the other side of the table. You can have a positive, productive mediation, provided you go in with a positive attitude and are willing to sit down for an open discussion. You may not get everything that you hope to, but in most cases you can both come out winners.
I have an announcement to make! Life’s doors Mediation will be moving to a new location as of March 1, 2014. As you may know, in March of 2013, I joined the Circle of Healing Arts Cooperative, and moved to Coon Rapids. There were many great things about this move, but some were not the best for my clients or my plans to bring the High Conflict Diversion Program to Minnesota.
This winter has absolutely stunk, to put it mildly, and crossing the river can be especially challenging any day, but this winter? Almost hopeless. You had to be extremely motivated to drive anywhere this year! Thank you to those willing to make the journey to Coon Rapids for class.
There have also been expansion plans for me and others in the co-op, but the building we are in was starting to fill up. It has left me without very good options for my classroom.
I love the people at the Circle of Healing Arts so this has been a difficult decision. Still, what I want to offer to my clients and students made me decide it was time to change, sooner, rather than later. I am a go getter and will do what I need to do to keep things moving forward for me and my clients. You need help and I will bring you options. I hope that Life’s doors Mediation becomes known for not only mediation and coaching, but also as a great place for education for families. I have a lot of information to share with you!
As of March 1st, I will be back in Brooklyn Center. Not in my old building. This one is just down the road a couple of blocks from there. This will be an exciting move. I cannot wait to show you all the new classrooms there! This place used to be a college so it is all setup for what I need and better able to accommodate my students more comfortably.
I may even be moved in earlier than the first. Keep an eye out. Once I get settled in, I will be making changes to the website and this blog.
I hope you will join me when you need mediation, coaching or classes that help you move forward toward your goals. I do not have anything listed yet, but working on a class for Adult Children of Alcoholics, which is another area of my expertise.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call 763-566-2282 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 has been an interesting year for me professionally. Life’s Doors Mediation has evolved and I have come into my own, fully embracing what it is I envision to offer the greatest opportunity to help my clients. Some of the changes have been very welcomed and I have considered them a gift from God. Some of the changes have been challenging. I have had to find a way to grow while making sure people can still find me easily. There are not too many people out there who welcome working with people in high conflict, hostile co-parenting situations, but I find it deeply rewarding. I know that parents of high conflict are not bad parents. They are parents who resent having been shackled to an angry ex spouse and the family court. They are parents who feel imprisoned by the Family Court System. No matter where they turn, they cannot find help, but if they can find me, they find someone who has been there, and really can understand their situation. Because of this lack of support to parents from the legal community, I have embraced change both deliberately and cautiously.
This year, I trained to be an instructor through the High Conflict Diversion Program. The director of the program, Brook Olsen, has been on a very similar life path as my own. High Conflict divorce changed his life and mine. Brook is someone who also understands and embraces parents in high conflict, hostile coparent situations and I am thankful that he included me as an instructor of this program.
To be an instructor of the program would mean a new office with classroom availability and so in March, I set out to find the right setting for the High Conflict Diversion Program and other classes I had planned to teach. I did not have to look too far because it was actually delivered to me. One of my clients was a part of the Circle of Healing Arts and invited me to join them. I now share office space at CoHA and we are doing amazing things there. The creativity and passion of this group inspires me every day.
I also published my first book, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare“. The book is a how-to guide for working with a parenting consultant or parent coordinator and offers communication strategies for dealing with these and other court authorities, and dealing with a hostile co-parent. I hope it helps you minimize the effects of family court on your life and the lives of your children. It doesn’t solve all of your Custody and parenting time problems, but hopefully, reigns in many of the mistakes parents make when they find themselves in this highly stressful situation.
The above recaps some of the transitions I have gone through this year, and now I am going to fill you in on some more.
I have lowered my mediation fees to $100 per hour and will offer this price at least through the end of the year. I still offer mediation services with no retainer because I know how hard it is to come up with a retainer, especially in this economy. Coaching prices remain at $50 per hour and is still much lower than most coaches charge.
In another role I provide, the PC role, I remain reluctant to do it. In the beginning, I swore I would not add those services, but I had so many people beg me to do it that I finally saw some wisdom in providing the service and doing things differently. Unfortunately, getting appointed when you are trying to do things differently is not always welcomed by judges, and the hostile ex spouse, who uses the role as a weapon against the other parent, will never agree to me as a parenting consultant/coordinator on your case. I still struggle with the PC work because it is a role that many people are under court order to utilize, but I feel that I can be more helpful coaching you on how to deal with this situation. Because there is a greater need for that, I may be apt to offer the coaching role to you, rather than the PC role. I really do wish that PCs would be banned nationwide, like they are in Pennsylviania, but we have yet to see how that works out and it still is the way it works in Minnesota.
I also feel that teaching the teaching the High Conflict Diversion Program offers the best opportunity to help you conquer the hostile co-parenting situation and that is where I will put my energy going forward. I will be offering training and consulting to PCs so that they can better understand High Conflict divorce and how they can truly serve the families they hope to help. You can send me the name of your PC and their contact info if you think they could benefit from training, and I will include them on the info list I send out to all PCs. I cannot make them attend, but hope that many will.
And now, about this blog. In the beginning, I kept coaching and mediation separate. I no longer want to do that. Everything has been rolled into Life’s Doors Mediation. I have been running the blogs from both Life’s Doors Mediation and the Coparent Coach because both blogs offer important information. I have added this blog as the main blog going forward. It is a lot of work trying to keep up both blogs so this blog will be Life’s Doors Mediation blog from today on. I will continue to make my past blogs available as archives so that you can find the information from the past few years, but now will move forward with one main blog where I can share important information with a variety of topics for all.
Stay tuned for more updates and more frequent blog posts going forward!
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net