Saturday, October 24, 2015

Top 10 Songs about Divorce - 2014

Top 10 Songs about Divorce - 2014

Also see our blog on the Top 10 songs about conflict – 2014.

Top 10 Songs about Divorce - 2014 - Find a mediator

1)     Justin Bieber - Where Are U Now

This song says a lot about divorce. The person who leaves the relationship often has days, weeks or months to prepare to leave the relationship. In this song, Justin Bieber talks about how he “gave [his ex] faith, turned [her] doubt into hoping.” This may be a normal reaction for a spouse who did not initiate the separation or divorce. While ‘the initiating’ partner has ample time to process the emotional pain of the end of the relationship, the remaining partner has yet to go through this difficult grieving process.

Couples should seek the help of a therapist, especially if they have children. They can also talk to their mediator about options, and whether they feel that they are ready to go through a family mediation process. Some people prefer the more amicable divorce process of alternative dispute resolution to more expensive family litigation processes.

2)     Ariana Grande - One Last Time

This song is about adultery and moving on. Sometimes relationships end due to adultery. The partner who committed adultery might seek forgiveness and another chance to fix the relationship, even if the other person has moved on (see letting go of the past). This song shows how someone might want to continue trying, even if it is only for the short term. This is part of the grieving process – denial. Even if you “take the person home” [get back together with your ex], you are likely to feel more pain. If you are in this situation, be careful to not stay in a destructive relationship.

3)     Andy Grammer - Honey, I'm Good.

This song is about loyalty, staying true to your partner and preventing divorce. Unfortunately, many relationships end due to infidelity – which is what the lyrics, in some ways, try to prevent. “Trying to stay true” translates to fidelity. If you have made a mistake, you can always learn how to fix a relationship – what to talk about or whether to choose divorce or family mediation.

4)     Meghan Trainor - Dear Future Husband

This song is about expectations and fighting fair in relationships. We might have idealistic views and impose our desires of our partner. If our expectations are not realistic, we may eventually seek divorce or separation. Why does divorce happen? Usually, it’s not about the smaller things, like not “buying groceries” or “seeing your family more than mine”. Couples often divorce because one partner has been resenting feeling lonely, or they have not succeeded in resolving conflict effectively (see the blog on why couples divorce).

The song also discusses the need to “Just apologize” “After every fight”. While Meghan Trainor asks for an apology even if she is wrong, it shows the importance of resolving conflict effectively in relationships and fighting fair. It’s important to avoid blame and the desire for revenge. The same goes for the divorce process - parties should seek mediation services to fight fair (Family Fights: How to Peacefully Resolve Conflict).

5)     B**** Better Have My Money (Rihanna)

The song is about conflict escalation and divorce settlements. It represents the nasty side of divorce when parties choose to go to court rather than to mediate (and use ADR). Rhianna takes an aggressive and exaggerated approach to getting her money. Even if the money is owed after a divorce, an aggressive approach is likely to backfire. We recommend that parties try mediation, because mediation offers various benefits that encourage parties to jointly resolve issues together, saving them time, money and frustration (see Benefits of Mediation).

6)     Florida Georgie Line – Sippin’ on Fire

This is another song about cheating. Florida Georgie Line speaks about the passion and desire of the human heart, and the unfortunate realities of people going “round the truth” – meaning: continuing an extra-marital relationship without deciding whether to stay in the relationship or to leave the relationship.  The song says “Every goodbye is bittersweet, So why should we fight what we both need?”

Often, individuals in relationships have sexual desires, but they do not feel at ease or know how to be honest and open with their partner. They avoid the confrontation and fail to seek the help of a marriage therapist to facilitate communicating their needs and working through their feelings. Instead, they continue the affair, which usually leads to divorce or a destructive relationship.

7)     Nick Jonas – Chains

This song is about being in a destructive relationship. Let’s face it, some marriages should never have started, let alone continue for years. This song is about being comfortable with discomfort, and staying in a relationship that keeps us in “chains”. If you are in a destructive relationship, read about it and seek help from someone who cares about you or a marriage therapist.

8)     Sia – Elastic Heart

This song is about moving on. No matter the challenge you face during divorce, you are resilient and can face any challenge with the right amount of support. Even if your partner leaves you, you are not broken. As Sia says, continue to “fight for peace”. This song encourages adaptability in times of change, extreme pain, and grief.

9)     Rachel Platten – Fight song

This song is all about gaining self-confidence after a difficult and destructive conflict. Rachel discusses a more adversarial approach to conflict “with power’s turned on”. Although the lyrics are positive in many ways, (“starting right now I’ll be strong”) a more aggressive approach to divorce might lead to further conflict escalation. This isn’t to say that confidence is a bad thing. We all need confidence, especially after divorce or separation. Use this song to motivate yourself to move on, but still try mediation services to ensure that everyone’s interests are met.

10)   Pharrel Williams - Happy

This song signifies the goals of alternative dispute resolution and amicable divorce –to help parties resolve their conflict, move on and feel happy again. Life is too short to dwell on the past. Happiness is to be felt by parents and children alike. If you are able to focus your energy on finding a new and effective way to communicate with your divorced partner, you are more likely to feel happy in your new life. In addition, your children will have an easier time adapting to this new familial reality. There are many benefits to mediation services, so what’s the harm of trying it out?

Thanks for reading this blog on Songs about Divorce. Be sure to find a mediator if you are going through a divorce or separation.

Top 10 Songs about Divorce - 2014 - Find a mediator

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Managing Ourselves in Mediation: Boundaries for Mediators

Managing Ourselves in Mediation: Boundaries for Mediators and Conflict Coaches

Mediate2go: Managing Ourselves in Mediation: Boundaries for Mediators

What are boundaries in conflict resolution

Similar to boundaries between nations or property, interpersonal and professional boundaries have many benefits. Boundaries in mediation, conflict coaching and conflict resolution in general can:
  • Help our clients resolve conflict (see setting boundaries to resolve conflict)
  • Help us define our own limits
  • Help us know when our limits have been passed or violated
  • Help others understand our limits and ensure that they respect them
  • Help us maintain power and take responsibility for what we are responsible
  • Encourage others to take responsibility for what they are responsible
  • Encourage stability in relationships
  • Provide a way for parties to learn to trust one another
  • Ensure safety is protected
All of these apply in the context of conflict resolution. Boundaries benefit both client and professional. Without boundaries, we are simply other people in the lives of our clients. We might think we are helping, but we are not necessarily encouraging a change in patterns based on the needs of the client. If we expect our clients to be self-leaders in conflict, we need to be self-leaders when helping our clients in conflict.

What are the levels and types of boundaries?

Mediate2go: Managing Ourselves in Mediation: Boundaries for Mediators
  • Personal - boundaries related to your personal needs
  • Professional - boundaries related to your professional obligations and reputation
  • Social - boundaries related to social norms
  • Organizational - boundaries related to organization requriements, policies and procedures
  • Legal - boundaries related to legal obligations
  • Community - boundaries related to community and cultural norms

Top 10 signs that you have a boundary issue to address

  1. I can’t do this – I’m worried I can’t help the parties resolve this conflict.
  2. I feel annoyed Something about the client or situation is bothering me.
  3. I feel too close My empathy for the client might be turning into sympathy or the need to please a client.
  4. I feel embarrassed Something said in mediation has embarrassed me directly or indirectly.
  5. I don't know what to say  I am not comfortable with silence.
  6. I feel rushed – Parties want issues resolved quickly.
  7. I want to fix this – I want the clients to have a resolution.
  8. I am being pushed into a corner – The client wants me to adjust the process against my better judgement or take responsibility for their issue.
  9. I feel pressured to laugh at a client's joke The client might be trying to get you on their side.
  10. My client is angry at me, and I'm getting angry The client's typical conflict interaction patterns might be manifesting themselves in the mediation room.

What can you do as a practitioner?

First of all, consider whether your safety might be at risk. Read about safety for mediators and coaches. If you feel safe, decide how you will assert your boundaries. Speak to your peers in mediation to get some insights, while respecting your client's privacy and confidentiality. Learn about how to manage your own emotions in the situation to learn how to become confident as a mediator. Remember, you are a model for your client(s), so personal work is key to being a good mediator (How to become a mediator). If you have ideas to share with your colleagues, please add them to this blog. Thanks!

Mediate2go: Managing Ourselves in Mediation: Boundaries for Mediators

Friday, October 9, 2015

What to Expect in Mandatory Mediation in Small Claims Court

A Guide to Settlement Conferences in Ontario for Self-Represented Litigants

This blog is to help you prepare to attend a mandatory mediation session in relation to a legal dispute.

What is a Settlement Conference?

Every disputed action brought in Small Claims Court in Ontario must participate in mediation. This mandatory mediation is known as a settlement conference and is regulated by Rule 13 of the Rules of the Small Claims Court

The settlement conference is administered by Small Claims Court and the mediator is a Deputy Judge. It is an informal discussion with a knowledgeable, neutral, third-party, in contrast to a trial.

Mediate2go: What to Expect in Mandatory Mediation in Small Claims Court

The Purpose of the Settlement Conference

According to Rule 13.03 of the Rules of the Small Claims Court:
The purposes of a settlement conference are,
(a) to resolve or narrow the issues in the action;
(b) to expedite the disposition of the action;
(c) to encourage settlement of the action;
(d) to assist the parties in effective preparation for trial; and
(e) to provide full disclosure between the parties of the relevant facts and evidence

In other words, the settlement conference provides the parties with a neutral assessment of the case without a binding decision. For example, the Deputy Judge might ask questions about the supporting evidence, how a party arrived at the amount of money in dispute, or instruct that certain legal procedures must be followed. The Deputy Judge may also give a frank evaluation that the claim or the amount of money is unreasonable or inflated. Since the goal is to settle the action, parties may be expected to come with an offer to settle or a counter-offer.

The parties are given insight into how a Deputy Judge might view the case if it goes to trial. Parties should consider the Deputy Judge’s assessment carefully and modify their expectations accordingly even though the settlement conference does not produce a final decision. If you think your claim is worth $25,000, but during the settlement conference the Deputy Judge points out flaws in your case and believes it is worth only $5,000, you should reconsider how much you are willing to accept.

Furthermore, the Deputy Judge will help you to prepare for trial. Unlike TV shows that depict surprise evidence, you must disclose all evidence to the Court and the other side before the trial. If the Deputy Judge orders you to produce (or disclose) certain evidence and you fail to do so, you will not be permitted to introduce that evidence at trial.

Attending the Settlement Conference

Once the defendant files and serves the defence, the Court will schedule a settlement conference. All parties will receive a Notice of Settlement Conference, with the date and location of the settlement conference.

You must attend the settlement conference. If you know that you cannot attend on that day, you must notify the other side, and ask to reschedule, which is known as seeking an adjournment. To seek an adjournment, you can call the number provided on the Notice of Settlement Conference. If at the last minute, you are prevented from attending, you should send someone to the settlement conference to seek an adjournment in person.

If you received Notice of the Settlement Conference and do not attend, another Settlement Conference will be scheduled. Furthermore, the Deputy Judge can penalize you by ordering you to pay up to $100 in legal fees to the other party, which is called awarding costs.

How to Prepare for the Settlement Conference

You should be prepared to support your claim or defence, and have all evidence ready. When you receive the Notice of Settlement Conference, you will also receive a blank copy of Form 13A List of Proposed Witnesses. If there are any witnesses who have knowledge of the dispute whom you would like to bring to trial, you must fill out this form, serve it on all the parties, and file it with the court at least 14 days before the settlement conference. 

If you have any other evidence you want to use at trial that you did not include in your claim or defence, you must also provide copies of this evidence along with the List of Proposed Witnesses 14 days before the settlement conference. The evidence could be receipts, photographs, videos, a police report, medical records, etc.

You should also bring your copy of the Plaintiff’s Claim, the Defence, your List of Proposed Witnesses, and the other side’s List of Proposed Witnesses to the Settlement Conference.

What to Expect at the Settlement Conference 

Many Small Claims Courts in Ontario are in courthouses with other levels of court (Toronto is a notable exception). When you arrive at the courthouse, you will need to inquire at the front desk about where your Small Claims Settlement Conference will be held. They may ask for the title of your proceedings (which is the name of your action).

When you find the room number, there will be a sheet with the schedule (court docket) for that day. Your action should be on the list. Wait until your matter is called before entering the room. Be prepared to wait for several hours because the time on your Notice of Settlement Conference is not exactly when you will be called. Many Small Claims Courts organize their court dockets into morning sessions and afternoon sessions, e.g. 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. Therefore, there might be several settlement conferences scheduled for 9:00 am, which will be called one after the other. For example if your action is third on the court docket for 9:00 am, you may not be called until 11 am. The Small Claims Court in Toronto is an exception with a specific time slot for each settlement conference, however it is still not an exact time as settlement conferences may go over time or parties may fail to show up.

If you bring a friend as moral support while you wait, if that person has any direct knowledge of the dispute and you would like to use them as a witness, then s/he cannot enter the Settlement Conference room.

The settlement conference will be held in a meeting room, rather than a courtroom. Parties will sit on opposite sides of a long table. You should address the Deputy Judge as “Your Honour” and stand up when you are speaking.

Each settlement conference is different, and varies depending on the Deputy Judge. The Deputy Judge may introduce himself or herself, and explain the purpose of the settlement conference. Then s/he will ask each party to introduce themselves and their position, or version of the claim. Be ready to answer questions about the case or respond to the other side. The Deputy Judge may try to get the parties to settle, make orders about the production of evidence, or instruct that certain legal procedures be followed. If the parties are ill-prepared for the settlement conference, the Deputy Judge may order an additional settlement conference. 

The settlement conference is completely confidential, in order to encourage the parties to have a frank discussion with each other and with the Deputy Judge. If you go to trial, it will be before a different Deputy Judge.  Anything that was discussed at the settlement conference cannot be brought up at trial until after the decision is made, with the exception of any orders from the court about the production of documents.

After the settlement conference, you will receive a copy of an Endorsement Record/Order of the Court.

The settlement conference is not the only opportunity to settle the case. After the settlement conference, you may continue to negotiate with the other parties to reach an agreement.

More Resources

The Ministry of Attorney General produced a Guide to Getting Ready for Court

If you are a low-income individual who is self-represented and you would like some pro bono (free) legal assistance, you should contact Law Help Ontario

Mediate2go: What to Expect in Mandatory Mediation in Small Claims Court

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