Are you starting out on your separation and divorce journey?

It's very common to have some unsettling thoughts and emotions.

Knowing that you are not alone can help you manage your "weird feelings".

Here are some common ones you might be experiencing:

1. "Am I doing the right thing?"

So often we are bombarded with information about how difficult divorce is for people and for their families. Because of this information, you might be second-guessing your decision. Seeking out a separation specialist, divorce coach, or therapist might help you learn strategies on how to have a good divorce. It's true that separation and divorce can be difficult, but with the right support network you will be able to get through it and come out the other side thriving!

2. "As a couple we are already in so much financial trouble - divorce is expensive - maybe I should just stay in this..."

It's true that separation and divorce can be financially stressful, and for couples already struggling with their financial health this can be the nail in the proverbial coffin. That being said, divorce does not have to throw you into bankruptcy. Finding a divorce financial expert, financial advisor, or accountant and discussing your situation with them can help you craft a plan for how to become more financially healthy at the end of your divorce. Though you might be pinching pennies during the separation and divorce journey, making wise financial decisions during the process and having a plan for when the proceeding is finished will set you up for financial success post-divorce.

3. "Should we stay together for the children?"

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the affect of divorce on children. Seeking out good, well-sourced articles and books can help you decide what will be best for you and your family. It has been suggested that the best upbringing a child can have is one free of toxic trauma, so if your relationship is causing harm to your child by exposing them to disputes between yourself and your spouse, separation and divorce might be the best thing for your family. Many therapists, social workers, and child development experts can help you determine what will be the least traumatic way of moving into a new family system or improving the family system as it already is.

4. "My spouse and I are friends - I don't want a separation and divorce to harm our amicable relationship."

Separation and divorce can get ugly, however, there are many ways to separate and divorce in a positive way. If you and your spouse want to have lawyers help you through the process, seeking out lawyers who practice Collaborative Law can keep you out of the realm of litigation. You might also choose to hire a mediator. Mediation is a process where you and your spouse stay in total control of the outcome and have a mediator assist you in going through the steps necessary to separate and divorce. Some people choose to only use mediation, and others choose to use mediation and have lawyers review the agreements at the end to provide independent legal advice. There are also other ways to separate and divorce in a positive way - talking to a counselor or trusted advisor can provide you with guidance on the best process for your situation.

5. "I'm the one leaving the relationship. I don't think the other person should have to pay me anything or part with any of their belongings."

Even if you are the one leaving the relationship it's important to think carefully about important decisions like foregoing spousal support or waiving equal and equitable property division. Relationships end for a wide variety of reasons and a person does not need to feel guilty or like they have to compensate the other person for the closure of the relationship. Speaking with a therapist, divorce coach, or other trusted person can help you work through your feelings regarding spousal support and property division. Talking to your lawyer and/or your mediator can also help you understand the importance of setting yourself up for success in your post-divorce life by making equitable decisions about support and property during the separation process.

Maybe you have another weird feeling or thought that keeps coming up for you - if you do, we encourage you to seek out someone to speak with about what's going on for you. Divorce is difficult and you do not have to do it alone. We are available for coaching and for mediation services - please contact us to book a consultation and to start your separation and divorce journey in a positive way:

During this uncertain time, you may be finding it difficult to communicate with the people who matter most.

If you are going through a separation, divorce or currently co-parent with an ex-partner, you might be finding it extremely difficult to communicate in a productive way.

Many services you might have used to help you communicate or reach agreements might not be available to you now. Finding a new way to handle disagreements will be necessary for your sanity.

Here are some suggestions that might help to patch you through your conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Online Mediation

Many Mediators have taken their practices online and can now offer their services to you from a distance. If you have a Mediator you already work with, contacting them to see if there are options for continued service during this time might be a great place to start. You may also want to Google search for Online Dispute Resolution Practitioners. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada might also be able to provide a list of Mediators who offer online services.

2. Online Counselling

Just as many Mediators have taken their practices online, there are many Counsellors who are now providing services online. If you have a Counsellor you are familiar with, contact them to see if they have moved their practice online. You may also want to ask friends and family if they have a recommendation for a Counsellor. Even if you are separated, divorced and/or in a co-parenting situation, Counselling can be extremely helpful for getting on "the same page" as the other person. If the person you are in conflict with is not willing to attend Counselling with you, taking advantage of Counselling for yourself can be a great first step toward resolving the conflict you are experiencing.

3. Online Arbitration or Adjudication

In some situations you might be past wanting to talk through the conflict you are going through. If that's your situation, you might want someone else to make the decision for you to resolve the conflict you are experiencing. There are Arbitrators and Adjudicators who are still providing services through this pandemic and they might be able to help you. Look to your local Alternative Dispute Resolution Regional Affiliate to receive a list of available Arbitrators.

4. Consider an App

If you are co-parenting with someone you are in conflict with, consider alternative means of communication and scheduling, such as an App. There are free options available as well as more robust subscriptions. Our Family Wizard and WeParent are great options.

5. Conflict Coaching

If you simply cannot get the other person on board with any of these suggestions, just as with Counselling, you could hire a Conflict Coach. A Conflict Coach could work with yourself and the other person or just with you. A Conflict Coach can help you figure out how best to manage the conflict you are experiencing and can work with you to strategize on next steps. Many Conflict Coaches provide online services. If you already know a Conflict Coach, contact them to see if they can help you from a distance. If not, Google Conflict Coaches. Many Mediators also offer Conflict Coaching services, so if you find a Mediator you would like to work with ask them if they also offer this complementary service.

We hope this list helps you consider new ways that you can find a resolution to your dispute. We are offering all of our services online and are happy to schedule a consultation with you using video conferencing. Contact us for rates, availability, and to book your appointment.

In the current health crisis, you may have transitioned your practice online or you may be considering moving your practice online.

Here are some important things to think about when engaging in and transitioning to an Online Dispute Resolution practice.

1. Are your clients tech savvy?

Providing online services is a great way to keep helping clients during this strange time, but if your clients are not tech savvy it might be a fruitless and frustrating venture. There are many platforms for Online Dispute Resolution and some are more user friendly than others. Consider which will be best for you and your demographic of clients.

2. Are you clients tech wise?

If you have determined a platform you think will be user friendly enough for yourself and your clients, the next thing you might want to consider is whether or not your clients are tech wise. Many people are tech savvy and make foolish, unsafe decisions online everyday. To protect yourself and your clients, you will want to canvass with your clients how they plan on engaging with the platform and what technology they plan on using. You might want to consider giving your clients a check list or putting together an internet safety screening document to review with them before engaging in your Online Dispute Resolution Process.

3. Is the dispute appropriate for an ODR/ADR process?

As with any Alternative Dispute Resolution process, it is important in Online Dispute Resolution to screen for appropriateness before engaging in the process. Using a MASIC, or other screening tool might work well, but you may want to craft your own to make it more specific to the unique type of service you are providing. You want to make sure that you and your clients are safe during and following the process and you will want to ensure you are still conducting safety planning when there are safety concerns. If you do determine through your safety screening that the process will not be appropriate for your clients, it is helpful to provide your clients with a list of alternative practitioners or process options that are available to them. For example, if online mediation will not work for the situation, maybe you have a colleague who is offering online arbitration services and you can refer your clients to them.

4. Are you equipped to provide Online Dispute Resolution Services?

You may be a very experienced Alternative Dispute Resolution Practitioner, but the Online Dispute Resolution world has its own idiosyncrasies and it is helpful to get specific, dedicated Online Dispute Resolution Training before providing ODR Services to your clients. There are many free Webinars that can give you an overview of how to conduct an ODR Process and there are some great courses of varying cost you could enroll in to get yourself up to speed.

5. Are you tech savvy and tech wise?

Though you do not have to be an IT Wizard to provide high quality ODR Services, it is helpful to have a cursory understanding of basic tech troubleshooting as you will likely have to navigate issues as they arise during the process. If you can create a cheat-sheet for yourself of common issues that occur and how to solve them, that can be very helpful. You could also provide the cheat-sheet to your clients, as it is probable that in the process at some point or other they will have an issue come up that they have to troubleshoot quickly to continue on with the mediation or other ODR service you are providing. You might also want to check yourself for tech wisdom. Do you make safe, good decisions while using the internet? Or do you make foolish choices? You might want to consider using a fresh computer that is purely dedicated to Online Dispute Resolution so any previous missteps you may have taken do not negatively affect your new ODR practice. It can also be helpful to speak to an IT expert to help get the most current information about Cyber-safety and receive recommendations on equipment, software, platform options and privacy and security precautions. You don't have to break the bank setting up your ODR practice, but it can be very valuable to invest a modest sum in setting yourself up. This could be the difference between being able to continue offering services to your clients or having your practice hijacked and held ransom for bitcoins by a Cyber Terrorist.

We hope this brief checklist provided you some food for thought as you embark on your ODR journey! If you have more questions about setting up an ODR practice or if you are interested in ODR training, please contact us at! Demi has been practicing ODR for some time, we are both certified ODR practitioners, and Demi is an ODR trainer.

Best of luck to you all in this difficult time and we hope you are all staying safe and well.

© 2019 by The Marriage Mediators.