“Enhanced mediation” involves going to another collaboratively-trained divorce professional’s office to receive specialized help that furthers the work of your divorce mediation. All information is shared with the primary mediating attorney, who writes up the final agreement (“judgment”). “” refers to more than one mediating professional in the same room at the same time.
Depending on a couple’s ability to communicate or the need for a parenting plan, the primary attorney mediator may refer you first, for example, to the office of a Collaboratively-trained Licensed Mental Health Professional to mediate the details of an effective parenting plan, with the best interests of the children in mind, or to work on communication regarding a hot topic in the mediation with your attorney.
A couple can also elect on their own to first see a collaboratively-trained licensed mental health professional to mediate their parenting plan. The mental health professional might then refer the couple to a collaboratively-trained CPA (also an “enhanced mediation” if you go to that professional’s office) to gather and organize the financial data that will be needed next by the primary attorney mediator to negotiate the division of assets and debts. Ria Severance not only specializes in child development, the impact of divorce at specific developmental stages and co-parenting communication skills, but functions as a neutral mediator around parenting plan issues. Once both parents approve a parenting plan, the parenting plan is drafted by the therapist, and sent to the primary attorney mediator, who writes it up formally as part of the final divorce agreement (“judgment”) the couple will review and sign. As the mediation proceeds, the clients or the attorney mediator can call on Ria to “co-mediate” and facilitate communication in the same room as the attorney mediator. Clients can also call on the collaboratively-trained CPA to consider the tax consequences of various options presented in the mediation with the attorney.
Sometimes one partner is having a harder time with the mediation and may need a Divorce Coach to help prepare him/her for mediation sessions. If partners both agree, the Divorce Coach of one partner can communicate freely with the attorney mediator. For example, one client was so filled with self-doubt and so reluctant to assert herself, that it was crucial for the attorney mediator to know of the client’s struggles if a viable agreement was to be reached. Otherwise, the attorney mediator would have invested time and the couple’s money in reaching an agreement, only to discover at the last minute that this partner was not at all on board. The Divorce Coach, Ria in this case, met privately with this partner both in the office and by phone, helped to keep the mediation process more informed, while helping the client process intense fear and grief enough for her to continue participating meaningfully in mediation sessions with the attorney.
Sometimes attorney mediators may send you first to the office of one of a collaboratively-trained CPA. It may save you considerable money, while increasing your mutual trust and willingness to work together to have all your financial documents held and organized by a single, neutral Financial Specialist, up front. Before any talks begin about the division of assets and debts, you both get a neutral, detailed picture of the current state of your financial affairs. The neutral CPA then compiles all the financial documents and ensures that both parties fully understand the financial data at hand. Many of PCD’s CPA’s are also trained in forensic accounting.
Often, one partner is less financially savvy than another. Because the decision to divorce is often preceded by a breakdown in trust between partners, it is often very cost effective in the long run to pay a collaboratively-trained, neutral financial specialist to fully explain the family’s finances to the less savvy partner, in front of the more savvy partner. The financial data compiled is then sent to the mediating attorney as the foundation from which to begin talks about how to share assets and debts going forward. Sometimes, when mediating couples need to consider the tax ramifications of various options, the attorney mediator may call in the CPA to “co-mediate” in the same room.
At times, a mediating couple who has assembled a “Mediation Team” (licensed mental health professional, CPA and family law attorney all trained in both mediation and collaborative divorce), has requested to co-mediate with the CPA and mental health professional when one partner is having emotional difficulty accepting specific financial facts about the couple’s current status. This can prepare the couple to mediate the division of assets and debts more effectively with the attorney mediator.