Friday, February 29, 2008

Emotional Stages of Divorce - Kübler-Ross

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a psychiatrist and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying. She proposed the Five Stages of Grief as a pattern of phases, most or all of which people tend to go through, in sequence, after being faced with the tragedy of their own impending death. I believe these stages as modified also apply to Divorce and I share them with new clients. The Emotional Stages of Divorce are:

Denial /Shock






When a couple reaches ACCEPTANCE it is much easier to resolve the case. I know an adversary attoney who once said at a seminar that he files motions in a case to buy time until the couple gets to forgiveness. As always, you can post a comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located at the below the directions. WM 2/29/08

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Marriages of Limited Duration

We see in the news a lot about how marriage is defined. There is a bill in the Arizona legislature for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a women. See article at Arizona and other states have covenant marriages. To enter into a covenant marriage, the couple first must have premarital counseling from a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor. Then, when applying for a license to be married, both persons must show their intention to enter into a covenant marriage by signing a special statement (or "declaration") on the application form. In a covenant marriage, legal separation or divorce may be granted by the court only for specific reasons listed in state law. See more about covenant marriages at

It seems to me after having been a divorce mediator for 30 years that the person you marries is not always the same person you divorce. I have often thought that we should apply the same concept found in leases to marriage. A couple would not get married for life but for a set time with options to renew. If the couple did not renew, they would no longer be married. A novel but interesting idea. As always, you can post a comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located at the below the directions. WM 2/27/08

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things I Would Like To Change In Divorce - Health Insurance, Mortgages, and Country Club Memberships

After working with divorcing clients for 30 years, I have a list of items which I would like to change and feel are inherently unfair. The first item is health insurance. When a couple divorces in every state I am aware of other than Massachusetts and Rhode Island, if a couple has family health insurance coverage, one of the parties must get individual coverage and one can keep the existing policy. Often this means the cost of health insurance doubles. All states should have the Massachusetts model which allows divorced parties to stay on the family coverage until one of the parties remarries. The second item is mortgages. When married couples get a mortgage to buy a home, they are both usually named on the mortgage. This is the case even when the mortgage is based on only one income. When the couple divorces and one party keeps the home, the bank will not usually allow the party who no longer owns the home to be taken off the mortgage. This requires the person who retains the home to refinance at a greater cost in order to remove the other party from the mortgage. If the person who retains the house otherwise qualifies, the bank should allow the parties to remove the name of the person from mortgage who is not retaining the home. Finally, country club memberships. When couples divorce, country clubs usually do not allow the couple to split the membership. Only the husband or wife is allowed to retain the membership. I often have a problem where only one party can take their children to the country club. If it is the father who retains the membership and the mother takes the children, she must drop them off and leave them unsupervised. All of the issues are currently decided in what is the best financial interest of the health insurance company, the bank, or the country club. The issues should be determined on what is the best interest of families. You can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/26/08

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Divorce Movies

While preparing for our first program on Divorce TV about the culture of divorce, I put together the following list of movies about divorce. We also found an interesting law review article entitled "Divorce Goes to the Movies," in University of San Francisco Law Review, Volume 30, Number 4 (1996) by Ira Lurvey and Selise E. Eiseman. Some of our movies came from this article. See the entire article at Let us know if you can think of any other movies and any comments you have about them. You can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/24/08

ANTARES (2004)
AWFUL TRUTH, THE (Columbia 1937) (directed by Leo McCarey)
BLUME IN LOVE (Warner Brothers 1973) (directed by Paul Mazursky).
BROOD (1979)
CHINATOWN (Paramount/Long Road 1985)).
COOLER (2003)
COURTSHIP OF ANDY HARDY, THE (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1942) (directed by George B. Seltz),
DESERT HEARTS (Desert Heart Productions 1985) (directed by Donna Deitch).
DIVORCE OF LADY X, THE (London Films 1938) (directed by Tim Whelen)
DIVORCE - ITALIAN STYLE (Lux/Vides/Galatea 1962)
DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE (Columbia/Tandem 1967)
DIVORCEE, THE (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1930) (directed by Robert Z. Leonard, 1930)
DODSWORTH (Samuel Goldwyn 1936) (directed by William Wyler, also featured Paul Lukas, David Niven and Mary Astor).
FOOL'S GOLD (2008)
FOREVER DARLING (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Zanra 1956) (starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, directed by Alexander Hall).
GAY DIVORCEE, THE (RKO 1934) (directed by Mark Sandrich, featuring Betty Grable and Edward Everett Horton as the lawyer)
GOOD MOTHER, THE (Warner Brothers/Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV 1988) (directed by Leonard Nimoy)
HE MARRIED HIS WIFE (Twentieth Century Fox 1940) (directed by Roy Del Ruth).
HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE (Cinerama 1969) (directed by Norman Panama). Bob Hope movie with Jane Wyman and Jackie Gleason,
I LOVE YOU AGAIN (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Cosmopolitan 1940) (starring William Powell and Myrna Loy),
IN NAME ONLY (RKO 1939) (directed by John Cromwell), Cary Grant
IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES (Lantana/Warner Brothers 1984) (directed by Charles Shyer).
KRAMER VS. KRAMER (Columbia 1979) (directed by Robert Benton)
LOVER COME BACK (Universal 1946) (directed by William A. Seiter),
MAN ON FIRE (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1957)
MANHATTAN (United Artists 1979) (directed by Woody Allen).
MARRYING KIND, THE (Columbia 1952) (directed by George Cukor; Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray.
MCLINTOCK! (United Artists 1963)
MICKI & MAUDE (Columbia/Delphi III/B.E.E. 1984) (directed by Blake Edwards).
MORGAN! (British Lion/Quintra 1966).
ONE MORE RIVER (Universal 1934) (directed by James Whale and featuring the film debut of Jane Wyatt).
OUR WIFE (Columbia 1941) (directed by John M. Stahl), starred Melvyn Douglas
PEPPERMINT SODA (Films de L'Alma/Alexandre Films 1977) (directed by Diane Kurys).
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (Paramount/APJAC/Rollins-Jaffe 1972) (directed by Herbert Ross).
POWER AND THE GLORY, THE (Twentieth Century Fox 1933).
QUESTION OF LOVE, A (Blinn/Thorpe Productions in association with Viacom 1978) (directed by Jerry Thorpe, starring Gena Rowlands, Ned Beatty, and Bonnie Bedelia)
REUNION IN RENO (Universal 1951)
RICH KIDS (Altman/Lion's Gate/United Artists 1979) (directed by Robert M. Young)
RICH ARE ALWAYS WITH US, THE (Warner Brothers 1932) (directed by Alfred E. Green and featuring Bette Davis).
SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (Cinema 5 1973) (directed by Ingmar Bergman).
SHOOT THE MOON (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1982), an extraordinary movie of raw emotional power directed by Alan Parker, and starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton.
SMASH PALACE (Aardvark Films 1981)
STEPFORD WIVES (Fadsin/Palomar 1974) (directed by Brian Forbes).
STEPMOM (1998)
TWICE IN A LIFETIME (Yorkin Company 1985) (starring Gene Hackman and directed by Bud Yorkin).
TWO JAKES, THE (Blue Dolphin/Paramount 1990) (directed by and starring Jack Nicholson in
WANT A DIVORCE (Paramount 1940) (directed by Ralph Murphy), Joan Blondell and Dick Powell
WAR OF THE ROSES, THE (Fox/Gracie Films 1989) (directed by Danny De Vito).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fog of Divorce

Lessons about divorce can from other areas. The 2003 movie, "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is such an area. " Internet Movie Database says it is "a film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war." The movie won an Oscar in 2004 for Best Documentary. See more detail about the movie at Internet Movie Database I have adapted these eleven lessons to divorce below. As always, you can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/22/08
The Fog of Divorce - Eleven Lessons
1. Empathize with your spouse.
2. Rationality will not save you.
3. There's something beyond one's self.
4. Maximize efficiency.
5. Proportionality should be a guideline in divorce.
6. Get the data.
7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
9. In order to do good, you may have to do something you don't want to do.
10. Never say never.
11. You can't change human nature.

What Are My Rights?

The most common question we are asked when a potential client telephones us about divorce mediation is "What are my rights?" It happened again this week. Obviously this reflects anxiety about the fear of the unknowns of divorce. This question is usually followed by the questions, "How much alimony must I pay or how much alimony will I get?" Clients want to be reassured that they will be financially ok. As mediators, we can not advise a person of his or her rights and maintain our neutrality. We tell him or her we have the answer to the question but if we answered it we would no longer be neutral. Although we don’t answer the question we advise the client it would be helpful if he or she either seeks review counsel or the person and his or her spouse come in to see us together. We usually advise the person that if he or she seeks professional help he or she will not be financially devastated by the divorce. However, as the fixed cost being divorce are higher than the fixed cost of marriage and the amount of money available will be about the same, both parties will have less money to work with and will have a reduced life style. The party is not always satisfied with this answer. The person must decide whether they want a validation of his or her own opinion or want a truthful opinion. Parties should be aware of an attorney telling them what he or she wants to hear in order to get the case. There are no guaranteed results in a divorce case. We often in jest suggest the party get a written guarantee from the person advising them which includes the advisor paying if the person does not get what the advisor said the person would get. The results are even less predictable when a case goes to trial and a judge decides. There may be a range of results which are acceptable or a worse case and best case scenario but every case is a role of the dice. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. In divorce mediation the couple maintains control and decides their our results. This is safer and more satisfying. There is also what I call the peace benefit. The couple is better able to resolve problems in the future with out the help of a third party. What are your rights? It may be up to you. As always, you can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/21/08

Monday, February 18, 2008

When God and the Law Don’t Square - In the News

An article in Sunday’s February 17, 2008 New York Times by Adam Liptak entitled " When God and the Law Don’t Square ( entire article at ) brought to mind many thoughts and lead to a long discussion between Mary and me. Britain’s Archbishop of Canterbury commented in a recent interview that "a Western legal system should make room for Shariah or Islamic law." In particular, he seemed to be saying Shariah should apply to divorces. He seemed to single out divorce law and not other areas of the law. Why should it only apply to divorces? If it is good for divorces, shouldn’t it be good for all areas of the law including criminal and corporate?

The culture of origin of a couple has been an issue in many of the cases we have mediated. We point out to the couple that although they may have been married in another country, they are getting divorced in this country and must comply with the laws of the United States. The Archbishop seems to favor family law cases being resolved by religious courts if the parties agree. We have always liked that mediation allows for self determination but there must be some limits. The limits should include that the parties are treated fairly and that U.S. laws are not violated. We wonder whether allowing religious courts to adjudicate legal matters would lead to a chaotic patchwork of decisions and a fracturing of our society’s social contract.

We do not disagree that the parties should be able to make mutually agreed decisions about religious observance. For example, if the parties agree, we make provisions in our agreements that parties ‘will cooperate in obtaining a Jewish Divorce also known as a "Get" or an annulment but the parties have never agreed to allow the religious court to do more than grant the divorce or annulment. For more discussion, the article refers to a law review article by Robin Fretwell Wilson "The Overlooked Costs of Religious Deference". Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 64, No. 4, 2007 . As always, you can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/18/08

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Over the years, our clients have never scheduled divorce mediation appointments or court dates on Valentine’s Day. Even though they are getting divorced, they feel it is not appropriate to work on their divorce on Valentine’s Day. Maybe they are still a little romantic. I was trying to figure out how to say this in our blog when I read the following article in today’s Arizona Star. I thought this was more interesting than what I had to say! WM 2/14/08

The Associated Press
Arizona Star, Tucson, Arizona Published: 02.14.2008
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston radio station is observing Valentine's Day with a reminder that Cupid sometimes misses his mark.
WKLC-FM, better known as Rock 105, is giving away a free divorce.
Valentine's Day isn't all hearts and flowers, says WKLC Program Director Jay Nunley. There is a darker side, he said, "where maybe you despise your spouse and resent the entire day."
Through 4 p.m. on Thursday, Valentine's Day, applications for the free divorce will be accepted on the classic rock station's Web site, The winning name will be drawn at 5 p.m.
Nunley cautions that this is a real divorce and people shouldn't enter if they aren't serious. Also, people expecting a long, drawn-out legal battle should hire a lawyer because the Rock 105 contest is for a relatively uncomplicated divorce.
Charleston attorney Rusty Webb will handle the actual filing.
"Sure we can give away concert tickets, and we do," said Nunley. "That's going to make you happy for a little while. This is the chance to make someone happy for the rest of their life."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Your Values or Your Child?

It was bound to happen. In a country so divided over what are the "right" values, with electoral politics focused on who should be allowed to marry, and whether evolution can be taught in the public schools without also teaching creationism, a New York Times front page story today reports on the increasing role of religion in child custody disputes. On February 13, a day sandwiched between Lincoln’s birthday with its discussions of freedom and Valentine’s Day with its paeans to love, the New York Times article tells of judges increasingly being asked to rule on whether a parent’s religious beliefs make him/her suitable to parent his/her child. What’s next? Are we going to have divorce court judges being asked to rule on whether a father who hunts or a mother who is a vegan can have joint custody of their children? How about if a parent is pro-life or pro-choice? Should the judge in a custody matter be asked to take that into account when determining what is in the child’s best interest? What’s worse for a child, being exposed to religious practices the other parent finds abhorrent or endless parental squabbling over issues large and small? MGM 2/13/08. See the entire New York Times article by Neela Banerjee at

Breaking Up is Hard to Do, But Need it Destroy You? - In the News

There was an informative article in the December 5 2007, Arizona Star by Jakob Hanes entitled
"Breaking Up is Hard to Do, But Need it Destroy You?" See the entire article at Hanes discusses an ongoing study at the University of Arizona by Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, David Sbarra, examining the physical responses people have when they think about their breakup. It is no surprise that the study found that bad breakups are associated with weakened immune systems, increase rates of colds and other illnesses and high blood pressure. People also became depressed and confused about life. One of the reasons we favor divorce mediation is that it helps reduce the pain of divorce and the divorce process. We see divorce mediation as a growth experience and an opportunity for a person to move on with their life and make it better. WM 2/13/08

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Another question I am frequently asked when I begin a divorce mediation is "When can I start dating?" It helps if both parties want to start dating. It is very hurtful if one of the parties does not want to start dating. I am reminded of a couple I was working with a few years ago. They both asked me when they could start dating. I gave my usual advice that if the marriage was truly over they could start dating but they should be discrete. Even if a couple is divorcing, a party can get angry when they see their spouse with someone else. This makes the mediation more difficult. The couple understood this. Two weeks later they came back for their next mediation session. As always I asked how things were going and they both gave me a "sheepish" look. They explained that they took my advice about dating and decided they would have a dinner date in New York City where they would avoid their spouse. Unfortunately, they both picked the same restaurant at the same time and were seated at adjoining tables! It still worked out and they were happily divorced a few months later. WM 2/12/08

Monday, February 11, 2008

Divorce and Presidents

Those of you who know me know that I am fascinated (some might say obsessed) with Presidential trivia. I have read a biography of every President and own over 300 biographies of Presidents. As a family we have visited a historic site for every President. The first Presidential race I remember is 1952. Stevenson lost the race to Eisenhower. One of the facts of that race which is not always remembered was that Stevenson was the first major party candidate who was divorced. In 1928 Stevenson married Ellen Borden, one of Chicago's most attractive debutantes. In 1949, less than a year after Stevenson became governor of Illinois, his wife sued for divorce. It is said she still voted for him for President. See an August 1952 article from Time Magazine.,9171,822378,00.html It was considered a major liability to be divorced and run for President. It was not until Ronald Reagan ran and won in 1980 that we elected a divorced President. He married fellow actress Jane Wyman on January 24, 1940 and they divorced in 1948. It may have helped that he remarried Nancy Reagan in 1953. After Reagan, the divorce issue seemed not to be as important. Kerry was divorced and remarried when he ran in 2004. McCain is divorced and remarried. Giuliani was divorced twice and remarried. See an interesting article about in the March 11, 2007 New York Times, "Voters Accept Divorced Candidates, but They Have Limits, " by Joyce Purnick at
As always, you can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/11/08

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why I Became A Mediator

This comes under the category of questions I am asked. I am often asked why I became a mediator. People say it is difficult or very emotional to work with people who are getting divorced. Why would you want to work with people getting a divorce? I became an attorney because I wanted to go into politics and not because I wanted to practice law. For years I was in a general law practice. I was spread too thin and did little which I took pride in or gave me professional satisfaction. When clients had great cases, they took them to a specialist. I had done a divorce mediation case referred to me by a friend, Dr. Donald Cohen. His father and Lenard Marlow did divorce mediation in New York and needed a Connecticut attorney to finish the case. Later, when my Wife asked me what I would like to specialize in, I said that I had enjoyed doing the divorce mediation. She suggested I pursue it. I trained with Zena Zumeta and Carl Schneider and started getting more cases. I helped found an organization of divorce mediators in Connecticut, the Connecticut Council for Divorce Mediation, and worked to help change the culture of divorce. I continue to do all these things and more. I found that divorce mediation fit my personality. I was a better mediator than I was an attorney. I saw both sides of issues and did not have to advocate a position I did not agree with. I also became a father during the early days of my mediation career. As a parent and an attorney/mediator, I found I did not like being part of an adversary process which destroyed children. I also found that I was helping people. My clients came out of the divorce better than they came in. They left the baggage of a bad marriage behind and were better able to communicate with the ex-spouse. They were better able to parent their children. They were able to move on. Helping them was very satisfying. There was also self selection in the client population. The people who chose mediation were not as angry and were more willing to work out an amicable divorce settlement. They were problem solvers and not negotiators. Finally, I got to meet with other mediators. My colleagues were people I liked and enjoyed spending time with. As always, let me know what you think. If you are a mediator, why you became a mediator. You can post a comment by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. WM 2/10/08

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Predictors of a Successful Mediation

We are often asked if a mediation will be successful. The following is a list we use which is a helpful predictor. Post a comment for more details or to tell us what you think of you think are good predictors or your experience. Directions on how to post a comment are in the first blog comment. WM 2/9/08
+ Desire for amicable post-divorce relationship.
+ Willingness to make own decisions
+ Desire for fairness.
+ Willingness to give and take.
+ Ability to regulate intense emotions
+ Children's well-being is more important than financial results of divorce.
- Lack of trust that other person will live up to the agreement.
- Desire for revenge.
- Spousal or child abuse.
- Substance abuse.
- Only goal is to save money.
- Little concern about impact of divorce on children.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Over the years we have found the balance of two mediators often makes each member of the couple feel more comfortable. We offer couples the choice of one mediator or co-mediation. Many couples prefer the balance of a male and female mediator and the added insights these trained mediators with legal and mental health backgrounds bring to the process. The greater understanding of psychological dynamics that a therapist-mediator brings to divorce mediation is very useful in overcoming blockages in the process. When custody issues exist, the input of the psychologist-mediator helps regarding children's reactions to divorce and the potential impact of various custody arrangements on children. The modeling by mediators of a wife and husband and a father and mother help a couple. We can show how you can disagree with respect and understanding. Post a comment for more details or to tell us what you think of Co-mediation. Directions on how to post a comment are in the green column on the right or at the bottom of this page. WM 2/8/08

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Marital Mediation

We encourage couples having trouble with marital issues to use mediation to reach a legal agreement addressing those issues, thereby strengthening the marriage. The couple jointly hires us to act not as a lawyer or counselor for either, but as a mediator. During a series of meetings the couple works with us to identify their issues and work out a mutually satisfactory plan to address them, including exchange of financial information and whatever sharing of responsibility they consider best for them. Both are free to consult with a lawyer, financial planner or other advisor at any time. The process is designed to help the couple strengthen their marriage by negotiating and then signing a legally enforceable contract.
Once an agreement is reached, we draft a Marital Mediation Agreement for each spouse to review with his or her legal advisor before signing. The Agreement may be enforced in various ways.
Marital Mediation works only if the couple is willing to make a good faith effort to reach agreement. There is no legal obligation to agree. Any commitment to mediation and to make the resulting agreement work comes voluntarily from the couple.
The process of negotiating and writing a legal agreement can change behavior in a couple's relationship. Creating personal solutions enhances marital satisfaction allowing the marriage to continue. Marital Mediation also leads to a reduction in marital conflict, helping children.
We will be giving a talk at the Tucson Saguaro Rotary club on February 26, 2008. Post a comment for more details or to tell us what you think of Marital Mediation. Directions on how to post a comment are in the first blog comment. WM 2/7/08

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Divorce Songs

While researching a theme song for the Divorce TV program I came up with the following list of divorce songs. Let me know what you think would be a good theme song and if you have any other suggestions. Directions on how to make a comment are contained in our first blog posting. WM 2/6/08

1. Love Stinks - J. Geils Band
2. Goodbye To You - Scandal
3. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
4. Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
5. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon
6. Hit the road jack - Ray Charles
7. You're So Vain - Carly Simon
8. The Thrill Is Gone - B.B. King
9. Time For Me To Fly - REO Speedwagon
10. Release Me - Engelbert Humperdinck
11. Sail On - Commodores
12. Harden My Heart - Quarterflash
13. I Hate Myself For Loving You - Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
14. Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) - Doris Day
15. Here's A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) - Travis Tritt
16. Jive Talkin' - The Bee Gees
17. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off - Harry Connick, Jr.
18. Lonesome Loser - Little River Band
19. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) - Journey
20. Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves - Aretha Franklin
21. I don't Care About You - Fear
22. Happy Trails - Van Halen

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mediated Divorce: Focus on the Needs of Children in Desert Leaf

See our article in the January Desert Leaf. WM 2/5/08

Humor in Mediation and Divorce

In times of conflict and trouble, one of the first qualities that we lose is our sense of humor.

Humor, injected into mediation in an appropriate way, can soften all of these attitudes and help the parties move forward. I know a mediator who, during the opening phase will sometimes note that the bathrooms are down the hall to the left, "but no one is allowed to go there until we have reached resolution." This unexpected, and absurd, statement is most always appreciated by the parties as an effort to lighten the moment. It serves to ease tensions a little, brings on some smiles, and in a way reinforces the commitment to actually work hard toward finding a resolution. It underscores in a humorous way the "why" everyone has come to the table.
A good mediator is to be able to recognize when and how to inject humor, in a respectful way, into the process. This is not always easy, as it involves taking a risk that the humor won’t be well accepted. But mediating well is a process of risk taking, as Kenneth Close notes in "Mediating Dangerously." Used with care and respect, humor can be a powerful tool in the mediator’s kit. And sometimes the participants in the process will rise to the occasion and inject their own healing humorous comments. Below is a cartoon I like about mediation and a joke about mediators. Do you have a cartoon, joke or story you would like to share? As always, post a comment with us. There are instructions in our first blog which tells you how. WM 2/5/08

How many mediators does it take to change a lightbulb?
Well, let's unpack that shall we?
First of all, let's be clear that it isn't the mediator's function to change the lightbulb.
The mediator will explore with the lightbulb how it feels about the on and off nature of its job, its unhappiness at always having to work nights, and its relationships with the other parties, including the new lightbulbs that it feels are a threat to its position.
The mediator will talk to the new lightbulbs, reframing and normalizing their observation that the principal lightbulb is completely out of its box, and identifying that their real issue is that being picked on one at a time constantly undermines their team spirit.
The darkness seems quite hostile to all the lightbulbs and keeps telling them to go and unscrew themselves. The mediator will allow it to vent its anger and express its distress at how it always feels unwanted.
The mediator will help guide the darkness and the lightbulbs, both new and mature, to a solution reflecting their new understanding of each other. Bright sparks will realise that you'll have to be left in the dark now because the final outcome is confidential.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Red Cross

I have volunteered to work as a mediator for the Red Cross Disaster Relief program. You can find out more about the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Red Cross at I agree with the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence Services, Unity, and Universality and its Core Values of Accountability, Collaboration, Commitment, Results, Trustworthiness, and Humanitarianism. Becoming a volunteer requires a great deal of training. I have taken courses entitled Fundamentals of Staff Services, Fulfilling Our Mission: Translating Your Compassion into Community Action, Mass Care Overview, Introduction to Disaster Services, New Paid & Vol. Staff Orientation, Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance and will be taking Collaborating to Ensure Effective Service Delivery. What has been interesting is how many of the skills taught by the Red Cross are similar to those used by mediators. In fact the skills are common sense and social skills we should all use. Some of the skills include: welcome the person warmly, treat the person with courtesy; active listening which enables you to express in your own words what the client is saying; avoiding the listening challenges of not paying attention, interrupting, hearing what is expected; practicing good listening skills such as focusing on the person, paying attention to non-verbal language, asking questions that clarify what the person is saying; and finally empathy. Volunteering for the Red Cross is a rewarding experience and I highly recommend it. WM 2/4/08

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Divorce TV

It was probably no surprise that I wanted to do my own television show. I can’t remember my family not having a television set but I remember us purchasing our first set. I watched Hopalong Cassidy and matured to watching Have Gun Will Travel. For reasons I don’t remember, I started calling myself Lucky. I even was in the Peanut Gallery of the Howdy Doody Show. So it came as now surprise when I read about Access Tucson and how you could do your own public access television show that I decided to do a television program. I also was interest in how the media could change the culture of divorce and I liked playing with electronic equipment. Doing a television show seemed to include many of my interests. Thus was born Divorce TV, a program dedicated to providing you information about divorce so you can make knowledgeable decisions about divorce. We are starting to tape the show in April and hope it will air in May. If you want more information about the show, you can go to its website at or its blog at
If you get Cox or Comcast cable you can view the show on the pubic access channels. If you don’t get cable you can view the show on your computer at They may also have it On Demand. If you want more information about the show or want me to email you when and where the show is on, you can email me at As always, we welcome your comments. In particular, we are interested in what you would like to see on Divorce TV and questions you would like us to answer on the air. You can always post a comment on this blog by clicking on comments at the end of the posted blog and follow the instructions in the window that opens up. We look forward to hearing from you. WM 2/3/08

Friday, February 1, 2008

Polling on Our Blog

One of the interesting features of our blog is the ability to do polling. For fun and since it is the presidential season, I have asked in our poll which of the current presidential candidates you would like as your divorce attorney or mediator. Try the poll at the bottom right. Let us know if you have any questions you would like us to poll. WM 1/31/08