Ruth Benedikt Krauze offers Mediation.

From Therapy to Mediation

For years and throughout my clinical practice, I have seen individuals, couples and families in various contexts working out important relationships in their lives. There are times, however, that marriages or common law relationships need to come to an end, and yet, if children are involved, newly defined relationships also need to emerge. For me, as a therapist, Mediation represents a natural extension of what I do in psychotherapy, with a shift in focus from growth of the couple's relationship, to an exclusive emphasis on a functional and practical parental relationship. In such a relationship, the primary topic becomes the well-being of the children and the health of the adults as separate individuals. Unlike in the adversarial legal system, where there are often 'winners' and 'losers', in Mediation the goal is to set the stage for mutual agreement, respect, boundaries, and a new understanding. My goal is to assist separating and/or divorcing couples find that path within them, without compromising the well-being of their children or themselves.

Divorce Mediation

Mediation is a non- adversarial process of negotiation between separating and/or divorcing parents with the aim of reaching a Shared Parenting Plan. This process is supported by a trained mediator, who facilitates and helps parents generate and negotiate choices regarding a wide variety of areas related to their children's daily lives. This is done in a respectful and compassionate manner, where the emphasis is always on the well-being of all involved, and on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). This is done by considering the emotional impact of unresolved issues, and by moving beyond these in an attempt to shift the focus and energy to the present and the future tasks of collaborating in the business of parenting.

This Mediation approach deals exclusively with parenting issues. Legal assistance is recommended in order to consolidate the financial aspects of the separation. Mediation is usually a cost effective way to deal with parenting issues, and it often results in a much more peaceful outcome than that of the adversarial system.

Why Mediation?

Separation and/or divorce is a time of loss and change for the entire family. For the parents involved, it represents a major life transition in which there is loss of the 'ideal family', of the couple's identity as adult partners, of daily routines, of extended family, and in addition, it can bring changes in financial security. Despite the fact that separation and/or divorce might be a trying time for all involved, and it might be a life event that is difficult to adjust to, eventually it offers new beginnings for the parents as adults, and a chance to re-build their lives.

For children in particular, separation and/or divorce can also be a time of extreme loss and disruption, considering that they may be forced to endure changes in their lives which they did not choose to be part of. For many kids, just like for their parents, separation and/or divorce can mean a sense of loss of the security the family brings. Mediation, facilitated by a mental health professional, aims at making the best out of a difficult situation, by ensuring that the emotional and psychological aspects of the separation and/or divorce are considered. Ongoing contact and secure relationships with important people in the child's life are central aspects of the Mediation process. In Mediation it is assumed that the bond a child(ren) has to both parents, and to important extended family members will be the basis for healthy adjustment. The possible short and long term impact that separation and/or divorce could have, might be minimized when both parents learn to put the past marital conflict behind them, and learn to build a more functional and 'business like' relationship, as they move forward with a new approach in the tasks of parenting.

Principles of Mediation

  • Mediation focuses on the continuation of the relationship between parents and their child(ren)
  • Healthy and consistent contact with both parents is encouraged
  • In mediation, all sides are considered and acknowledged
  • In mediation, the mediator acts as a compassionate facilitator
  • Mediation focuses on parental self determination in decision making
  • Mediation is a process of healthy negotiation
  • A Shared Parenting Plan is generated on all areas of agreement
  • Mediation is confidential (within the limits of the law)

Goals of Mediation

  • To arrive at a mutually agreed upon Shared Parenting Plan
  • To ensure that the Shared Parenting Plan is fair and equitable
  • To explicitly state the terms of agreement
  • To ensure that the Shared Parenting Plan is drafted in a way that is clear to all
  • To ensure that kids remain securely bonded to both parents and to all who love them
  • To consider the role of extended family in the life of the child(ren)
  • To develop new tools of communication and discourage negative patterns
  • To ensure that kids are not caught in the middle of parental conflict
  • To prevent child(ren) loyalty conflicts, which might lead to behavioral difficulties
  • To encourage parents' understanding of the particular needs of their child(ren)
  • To become familiar with the developmental stages and needs of their child(ren)
  • To understand how the Shared Parenting Plan might need to evolve over time
  • To promote mutual respect for differences in parental approaches
  • To promote respect for boundaries between parents
  • To allow for parents to move on as individuals while at the same time co-parent their children
  • To build a mechanism to deal with conflict resolution

What is A Shared Parenting Plan?

A Shared Parenting Plan or a 'Memorandum of Understanding' is a detailed document outlining the areas of parental agreement, including but not limited to:

  • The Rules of Cooperative Parenting
  • Child(ren's) Schedule (related to time spent with each parent)
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Religious Instruction
  • Transitions
  • Holiday Time
  • Communication
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Extended Family
  • Emergencies
  • Mobility
  • Conflict Resolution

Steps of Mediation Process

  • Initial individual sessions between each parent and mediator
  • Joint parental meeting with mediator
  • Mediator assesses suitability of the case
  • Parents are presented with the rules of communication
  • Parents are presented with an initial Agreement to Mediate
  • Joint sessions between parents and mediator, scheduled on a weekly basis, or as needed
  • Process of Negotiation
  • Informal agreement reached
  • Lawyer(s) involvement in final preparation of formal agreements
  • Formal agreement signed
  • Follow up
  • Future adjustments of the agreement as needed

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