Monday, May 25, 2015

Holistic Approach to Difficult Situations

I previously posted on being interviewed about Integrative Mediation (see post here). In this post here, I provide more information and resources about this particular model of mediation.

Although most of our mediations are "solo" mediations with just one attorney-mediator guiding a couple or family from start to finish through the divorce or premarital agreement process, there are some situations in which an integrative (i.e., multi-disciplinary) approach can help ensure a successful outcome. In cases where more psychological support is needed, a therapist-mediator can help manage the difficult emotions and help facilitate more rational and therefore productive discussions (which is different from providing joint or individual counseling) and certain therapists have expertise in child development issues which can be extremely valuable to a mediation. Working with both an attorney-mediator and therapist-mediator often provides the right combination of skills and knowledge to help a divorcing couple reach complete agreements together.

Cases which might benefit from this more holistic version of mediation include those with difficult or traumatic events leading to the separation, a highly emotional separation (as experienced by one or both parties), as well as situations in which a separating couple anticipates difficulty in reaching agreements surrounding parenting issues (custody/timeshare schedule, communication, etc.).

There are different ways of structuring a co-mediation which might include any of the following: co-mediating from start to finish of the case; having an initial co-mediation session and dividing out roles and meeting separately; starting as a solo mediation with either professional (depending on the core problem areas) and bringing the other professional in to consult as needed; starting separately with both professionals and working in parallel with the two professionals talking as needed to help move both sides of the process along. These variations can be useful when financial constraints are looming with a pending divorce. However, the cost of ensuring a successful outcome through Integrative Mediation is far less expensive (and generally much more expedient) than going through contested court hearings and trials with litigating attorneys, and putting children through the Family Court Services process and custody evaluations.

To find out more about Integrative Mediation, please visit Integrative Mediation Bay Area (

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Integrative Mediation: How involving other professionals in your divorce can help

I was recently a guest on Chuck Finney's local public radio show "Your Legal Rights" along with psychologist Stacey Shuster, PhD. We discussed divorce mediation and premarital mediation as well as the integrative mediation model in which two professionals from different specialities join forces to help individuals through difficult cases and keep families out of court. Here is the link to this radio show. If you are considering embarking on a divorce with significant emotional issues for one or both of you, I hope you will consider this as an option to help ensure the emotional issues do not prevent productive settlement discussions.
Paula M. Lawhon

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our Family Law Mediation Team Has Expanded!

Our Family Law Mediation Team has expanded! We now have three attorneys providing full-time Family Law Mediation services in addition to our paralegal/office assistant. I am in my 16th year of law practice and in my 11th year as a Family Law Mediator. Attorney/mediator Shelley Kennedy has been with our office for 5 years since graduating from UC Hastings College of the Law. Attorney/mediator Meredithe Kreis joined our firm in 2014 after litigating for 7 years following graduation from University of San Francisco School of Law. Our paralegal/office assistant Carolyn Sanborn is a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law as well and taught public high school for 15 years.

We are all busy helping families through the divorce process in a way that is less difficult and often far less expensive than going to court.  In addition to Divorce Mediation, we also help couples who are planning to get married by working with both individuals to create their own unique premarital agreement together in Premarital Mediation to help build and solidify the financial relationship from the start.

Please feel free to call us to find out whether mediation is right for you and to find out the next steps.